The Football Association's campaign against homophobia was ramped up again yesterday, as Manchester United striker Federico Macheda was one of three footballers charged with allegedly posting an anti-gay tweet.
Newcastle United's Nile Ranger and Walsall's Manny Smith were also charged along with the on-loan Queens Park Rangers forward for using alleged homophobic comments on the social networking site. The FA stated that each has until 1600 GMT on Wednesday 29 February to respond to their respective charges.
Recent West Ham United signing Ravel Morrison was fined £7,000 after he admitted a charge of using abusive and/or insulting words on Twitter, including a reference to a person's sexual orientation.
Macheda deleted his tweet, but it was screen grabbed by a Twitter user:
Ex-Leicester City defender Michael Ball meanwhile received a £6,000 fine after an outburst against Coronation Street actor Anthoy Cotton. Ball was sacked for posting the message by Leicester in January.
Oxford City recently also fired striker Lee Steele after he made a remark about outed rugby union star Gareth Thomas.
Tweeting about Thomas's appearance in Celebrity Big Brother, Steele wrote: "I wouldn't fancy the bed next to Gareth Thomas #padlockmyarse".
Macheda took to Twitter to plead his innocence:
The FA launched a new six-year inclusion and anti-homophobia plan on Monday, as Justin Fashanu remains the only footballer to have played in England and come out. Fashanu committed suicide in 1998 after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year old in Maryland, US.
But despite strives to clamp down on homophobic comments, the FA is responsible for such a climate in football, according to former NBA basketball player John Amaechi.
Amaechi, who revealed his sexuality in 2007, said the issue will only be quelled by greater diversity among the FA board members - not "posters and platitudes".