Metro Weekly

Sports announcer suspended after homophobic comments about women basketball players

Belgium's Eddy Demarez claimed he didn't know he was on air when he called the women men and joked about their sexuality

Basketball
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

A Belgian sports announcer has been suspended after he was caught on mic questioning the sexuality of Olympic athletes and referring to women’s basketball players as men.

Eddy Demarez, a sportscaster for Belgium’s VRT network, claims he was caught in the “euphoria” of the country’s returning Olympic athletes when he made the comments during a live broadcast.

Specifically referring to Belgium’s women’s basketball team, the Belgian Cats, Demarez repeatedly joked about the players’ gender identities and sexuality, SB Nation reports.

Speaking with another man offscreen, Demarez referred to power forward Emma Meesseman as “Emma Meesteman.” Meest is Dutch for “most,” implying that Meesseman is the most manly player on the team.

Referring to point guard Marjorie Carpreaux, Demarez could be heard saying, “That’s a man.”

Upon seeing sisters Hanne and Kim Mestdagh, Demarez remarked, “The Mestdaghs: One’s a lesbian, the other not.”

Demarez also claimed that only one member of the Belgian team was straight — despite only two players reportedly being out as LGBTQ.

A few of the players responded to Demarez’s comments on Twitter. Emma Meeseeman tweeted, “Can I just really, REALLY not have it for awhile? Thanks.”

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Hanne Mestdagh called Demarez’s comments “disrespectful, painful and demeaning,” while her sister Kim simply offered a puking emoji and tagged Sporza, VRT’s sports channel, which employs Demarez.

The team’s captain, Ann Wauters, called Demarez’s comments “totally unacceptable, adding, “Shocked. Disgusting.”

After he was condemned for the comments on social media, Demarez shared a statement through VRT blaming his comments on the “euphoria” of the returning Olympic athletes.

“I never intended to offend anyone on the basis of gender or orientation. It is doubly unfortunate that these statements are a stain on the Games that were very successful for Team Belgium and Sporza,” he said. “I would therefore like to sincerely apologize to the Belgian Cats and their team and also to anyone who feels offended, addressed or neglected by this.

“I have asked the Belgian Cats to personally send them my apologies. I will draw the necessary lessons from this and make sure that this does not happen again in the future.”

VRT has since distanced itself from Demarez, calling his comments inappropriate and saying they “cannot be tolerated.”

Demarez has since been suspended, with management investigating “whether and how Demarez can resume work,” VRT said in a statement.

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