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19 Apr, 2022 17:52

Italian ski queen apologizes for ‘homophobic’ comments

Sofia Goggia released a social media statement after supposed anti-gay and anti-trans comments she made in an Italian newspaper
Italian ski queen apologizes for ‘homophobic’ comments

Italian skier Sofia Goggia has apologized online after she became entangled in a media frenzy for supposed anti-gay, or anti-trans, comments she made while speaking to the national newspaper Corriere della Sera

One of the stars of the alpine skiing circuit, the 29-year-old Goggia became the first Italian woman to claim Olympic gold at the 2018 event in Pyeongchang and added World Cup downhill titles to her trophy cabinet in 2018, 2021 and 2022. 

But with success often comes increased scrutiny and she recently landed herself in hot water for comments made during an otherwise run-of-the-mill Q&A session with the aforementioned Italian daily newspaper.

"I believe that women must fight for their rights, including equal pay," Goggia said via translation when probed as to whether or not she considered herself a feminist.

"But women are women; men, men. I don't like it when they say: woman with balls. Why do you have to judge me by what I don't have, what I'm not?"

She was then questioned on whether or not there was a high degree of homosexuality within skiing: "Among the women, some are.

"Among men I would say no. They have to throw themselves off Kitz's Streif."

Goggia's critics maintain that this is an offensive statement which reinforces a belief that homosexual men wouldn't be 'brave' enough to run the expert-level downhill ski course in Austria. 

Corriere della Sera opted to push the transgender question again.

"In terms of sport, a man who turns into a woman has physical characteristics, even at the hormonal level, which allow him to push harder," Goggia replied. "I don't think it's right then."

The furor as to her response soon prompted Goggia to revise her statement on social media.

"A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest," she wrote.

"I am sorry and I apologize to all the people who felt offended by the sentence that came out in the Corriere interview which, certainly, when I said it, did not want to be of a discriminatory nature."

However, Goggia wasn't given a pass by some on Twitter.

"Dear [Sofia Goggia]," wrote on responder. "People 'did not feel offended', you offended them. It is not a question of our sensitivity. It's a question of what you said, which is discriminatory and conveys stereotypes and toxic machismo. You make the forest of prejudices grow too."

The growing scandal also reached the upper levels of the Italian government. Ivan Scalfarotto, Deputy Minister at the Italian Ministry of Interior and noted LGBT rights activist, said that Goggia should be more thoughtful in future when addressing issues such as this.

"I read with dismay that according to Sofia Goggia a gay athlete would not be able to do a downhill," he wrote.

"Before saying such things, kind Sofia, you should stop and think twice: speed is an advantage in the race but with words it can become a big problem."