A British footballer who posted a homophobic comment on Twitter about openly gay former Wales rugby player Gareth Thomas has been sacked by his club.

Oxford City striker Lee Steele took to the social media platform last week to comment on the presence of Thomas in the British version of Celebrity Big Brother.

“I wouldn’t fancy the bed next to Gareth Thomas #padlockmyarse” Steele wrote.

A club statement said the board had decided to release Steele in view of the comment which was considered “seriously contrary to the ethos of the club”.

The manager of the Southern Football League Premier Division club, Mike Ford, told the BBC he didn’t believe the player was homophobic.

“On this occasion Lee’s had to pay for his error of judgment. He’s made a homophobic comment, [but] that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s homophobic,” Ford said.

Former England rugby union international Ben Cohen, who set up a foundation to combat homophobia and bullying, said sports people had a responsibility to set an example but stopped short of calling for Steele to be sacked, saying it should have been a lesson learnt.

“If you are a sportsman you’re a role model and people look up to you no matter what division you’re in,” he said.

Steele has made no public comment since the tweet was published.

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