Pressure against the inclusion of homophobic boxer Tyson Fury in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) short-list is mounting, with claims that one of the other candidates has threatened to withdraw.
There were a flurry of reports on Thursday that track and field Olympic champion Greg Rutherford had considered dropping out of the short-list because of Fury, who recently won the world heavyweight title.
Rutherford later released a statement confirming that he had “discussions with the BBC regarding my involvement with SPOTY after hearing what I believe to be very out-dated and derogatory comments from a fellow SPOTY nominee.”
He said that while he had concerns “about sharing a stage with somebody that had views that are so strongly against my own,” he did not intend to pull out.
In the meantime, the Sports Journalists’ Association withdrew an invitation to Fury to attend its own British Sports Awards in London on December 17, calling his comments “repugnant.”
It’s also been reported that BBC Director General Tony Hall will be questioned by MPs in the culture, media and sport select committee next week to explain the inclusion of Fury on the list.
Fury recently said in an interview that the acceptance of homosexuality would lead to the apocalypse and equated it to paedophilia. He has also stated that “a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back.”
Despite international outrage, he has remained defiant; continuing to defend his views. He tweeted on Thursday: “The end is near repent of your sins. Remember what the bible says!”
More than 125,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the BBC to take Fury off its SPOTY short-list. Police in Manchester have also launched a hate crime investigation after receiving complaints about the boxer’s comments.