Italy’s Fabio Fognini apologizes for repeatedly using anti-gay slur during Olympic tennis match

Japan 2020

Fabio Fognini directed the offensive term at himself on Wednesday while losing the third-round match to Daniil Medvedev. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) — An Italian tennis player has apologized for repeatedly yelling a homophobic slur during a match against a Russian opponent at the Tokyo Olympics, blaming the excessive heat for the “sciocchezza,” or nonsense, that came out of his mouth.

Fabio Fognini directed the offensive term at himself on Wednesday while losing the third-round match to Daniil Medvedev.

Early on Thursday morning, Fognini shared a statement on his Instagram story, apologizing to the LGBT community and blaming the heat — at least partially — for his actions.

“In today’s match I used a really stupid expression towards myself,” he wrote after claiming the heat went to his head, per a translation. “Obviously I didn’t want to offend anyone’s sensibilities. I love the LGBT community and I apologize for the nonsense that came out of me.”

Fognini’s match against Medvedev was also the same that made headlines for Medvedev’s comments about the extreme heat. At one point between sets, Medvedev even asked an official who would be “responsible” if he died during the last set.

Medvedev ultimately defeated Fognini in a three-set match to reach the quarterfinals at the Summer Games. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)

Medvedev ultimately defeated Fognini in a three-set match to reach the quarterfinals at the Summer Games. Following the game, Fognini tossed down his racket, picked it up and threw it into a nearby trash can, ESPN reported.

This isn’t the first time Fognini has served up controversy in competition. In 2017, the often volatile 35-year-old was fined and kicked out of the U.S. Open doubles tournament after a female umpire reported him for lobbing vulgar remarks at her.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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