WELL KNOWN GAA REFEREE David Gough has claimed that the GAA's decision to refuse Mayo's request to wear rainbow numbers on their jerseys is “abhorrent”.
Last week according to Mayo publication Western People, Secretary Dermot Butler informed the monthly County Board meeting that Mayo GAA had sought the permission to have Kevin McStay’s team wear the rainbow-coloured numbers for home games in the 2023 Allianz Football League that application was rejected.
The Connacht County and 'Mindspace Mayo', the county’s charity partner, aimed to show support towards the LGTBQ+ community with the gesture.
Rainbow-coloured laces in the players boots are now being looked at as an alternative option.
The GAA have claimed they aren't LGTQ but stated the playing jerseys are ‘sacrosanct’.
Gough speaking on Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin, and said: "I think it's an abhorrent decision by the GAA."
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) December 3, 2022
"I know about the requests in the first place, and it was disheartening to wake up to a text message to say that there had been a refusal to allow Mayo to wear rainbow-coloured numbers on the back of their jerseys in support of the LGBT community and, in particular, their own partner in charity in Mayo."
"I saw their statement and they said that the playing gear was sacrosanct, and I think was an unwise choice of words.
Gough also highlighted the hypocrisy of the situation by pointing out that the likes of Dublin have had Pieta House (mental health charity) on their jerseys.
Other examples were highlighted in the same interview.
"A precedent has been set before where we've had Dublin in the championship playing against Westmeath with Pieta House on their jerseys," said the Meath native.
"We had Cork wearing jerseys in the National League for Mercy Hospital Foundation, we had Carlow wearing something for suicide awareness and even up in Derry, Joe Brolly's Opt for Life campaign appeared on the jerseys in the championship back in 2013."
"So, precedent had been set beforehand and it's just strange to see that they're singling out the LGBT community."
He also addressed a GAA statement claiming that rainbow-colored numbers would be hard to make out from a distance.
"I think that's a ridiculous comment to make. We have already seen Ireland and the FAI wearing them in the Aviva at a match of an international sporting governing body against the USA.
"It is not a political movement. It is a community based in human rights movement," Gough added.
This isn't the first time the GAA have become embroiled in a controversy surrounding LGTQ+ issues.
Back in 2015, Gough was prevented from wearing a rainbow wristband in support of marriage equality when he took charge of the league encounter between Dublin and Tyrone at Croke Park.
The referee said he was initially granted permission by senior figures in the association until the decision was rescinded by Croke Park authorities.
He was told that the GAA would not allow political statements and wearing the "gay pride" or "freedom" wristband, made up of six differently coloured stripes and signifying diversity in the gay community, breached that rule.
Gough said afterwards: "I had received permission at noon on Friday but then received a number of calls on Friday night and another at 7.30am (Saturday) when they told me they would not allow it.
"At one stage they had offered a compromise where I could wear the wristband under the stands at Croke Park, on the fringes of the pitch or in the dressing rooms but would have to take it off when I crossed the white line onto the pitch for the match.
"I would not have done that. It would have made it look as if I had something to hide," he said.
Former Dublin boss Jim Gavin came out in support of the referee.
"I wouldn't see this as a political issue, and maybe if he was making a political point then that was not the place for it, but I would sympathise with David Gough," he said.
Croke Park chiefs are standing over their decision to refuse an application from Mayo to wear rainbow-coloured numbers on their jerseys https://t.co/JeLQ1ZEGo0
— Independent Sport (@IndoSport) November 30, 2022