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Keighley Cougars reveal vile homophobic abuse club owners receive

Keighley Cougars play home matches at Cougar Park.

Keighley Cougars have revealed a spate of homophobic comments and messages that owners Ryan O’Neill and Kaue Garcia receive on a regular basis, highlighting the huge issue that still remains in the sport.

Both Ryan and Kaue are proud members of the LGBTQ+ community and have used their role within rugby league and at Keighley to try and spread awareness, whilst making Cougar Park a safe space for everyone.

They’ve broken plenty of boundaries in doing so with their special edition rainbow jerseys proving popular, whilst 2023 shirts donned the message of peace, love and respect.

The club have also confirmed that this weekend’s game against Bradford is dedicated to LGBTQ+ history month.

In spite of the positive strides that both men and the club have undertaken, they’re sadly still the victims of horrific online abuse, something that Keighley reported on their social media channels yesterday.

A post on X, formerly Twitter, showed a barrage of abusive comments in a clip just over one minute and twenty seconds long, Keighley posting it to underline the importance of celebrating LGBTQ+ history month to try and educate, inform and ultimately top such abuse.

Keighley Cougars reveal dozens of horrific messages

Keighley Cougars are co-owned by Ryan O'Neill and Kaue Garcia, both of whom have sadly been the victims of vile homophobic abuse.

Keighley Cougars are co-owned by Ryan O’Neill and Kaue Garcia, both of whom have sadly been the victims of vile homophobic abuse. – Picture by Allan McKenzie/

The post on X displaying the unimaginable number of abusive messages was captioned: “Here are some of the messages that Ryan and Kaue receive on a regular basis. No wonder people are afraid to come out. This is why LGBT+ History Month matters.”

In total, the video featured 45 examples of the abuse that the club have received on their social media channels, a sad indictment of the sport that we love.

As explained in the video, ‘this is why representation matters’, and ultimately it shows why this weekend’s game between Keighley Cougars and Bradford Bulls is dedicated to raising awareness around LGBTQ+ history month.

In the club’s announcement regarding this weekend’s fixture, they explained: “Keighley Cougars Rugby League Club proudly announces their upcoming match against Bradford Bulls on February 18th, which will be dedicated to LGBTQ+ History Month. This initiative marks another milestone in the club’s ongoing commitment to inclusivity and diversity within the sporting community.

“During the match, Keighley Cougars will unveil a monumental 12×12 metre flag in support of the Trans community. The flag reads, ‘Trans Rights are Human Rights’, serving as a powerful symbol of solidarity and advocacy for a community that has long faced discrimination and marginalization.”

Ryan O’Neill, co-owner of the club, emphasized the importance of supporting the Trans community, stating, “The 2024 season will focus on providing much-needed support to the Trans community, which faces constant adversity and unfair treatment. They are our brothers and sisters who deserve respect and equality above all else.”

The post also comes just days after the launch of the RFL’s Respect campaign which calls on fans, clubs, players and everyone involved in the game, to ensure that everyone is made welcome at any game.

The RFL’s statement announcing the respect campaign read: “Respect aims to improve touchline behaviour at community games, tackle abuse of match officials, address any player and fan misbehaviour, and ensure a welcoming environment at all levels of the game.”

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