I apologise for my previous use of social media – my comments were meant to be humorous but on reflection they were a mistake
Football’s anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out has expressed its “serious concerns” over tweets posted by new AFC Wimbledon manager Wally Downes.
The Sky Bet League One club appointed their former player as manager on Tuesday, despite him sending at least one tweet that mocked football’s Rainbow Laces campaign.
Now in its sixth year, the campaign was started by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) charity Stonewall to fight homophobia in sport.
AFC Wimbledon’s players wore rainbow laces during their home game against Southend last month, with the corner flags and substitution boards also sporting the colour scheme.
In 2013, the Dons became the first professional team to join the pan-European ‘Football Fans Against Homophobia’ campaign.
But in September, Downes tweeted comments, while coaching in India, which appeared to mock the campaign and used the hashtag #RainbowLacesTurbans”.
The 57-year-old, who has now deleted his Twitter account, has spent much of the last year coaching in India.
“We have been speaking to the club over the last few days and expressed our serious concerns over some of the tweets from Wally Downes,” Kick It Out said in a statement.
Both the club and Downes himself addressed the matter after he was confirmed in the role.
“During the recruitment process we became aware of some use of social media by Wally that is not consistent with our values,” the club said.
“We have talked at length with Wally about this, who has accepted that these messages were ill-judged and he has assured us that they do not represent his views.
“In the light of these discussions, we are satisfied that these do not represent Wally’s views. We have agreed a series of actions with Wally that we believe will demonstrate his commitment to the club’s values.”
Downes, who succeeds Neil Ardley in the manager role at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, said: “I am very proud to be appointed as manager of a club I love dearly.
“I apologise for my previous use of social media – my comments were meant to be humorous but on reflection they were a mistake.
“I am very aware of my responsibilities as Wimbledon’s manager and immensely proud to have been appointed. I am now looking forward to working flat out to help to keep the club in League 1.”
Source: Football Webpages