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Calls to remove Tyson Fury from BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist over homophobia and sexism claims

Tyson Fury is a contender for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Credit: Reuters

There are growing calls for new world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury to be removed from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist over allegations of homophobia and sexist comments.

Fury - who defeated Wladimir Klitschko in a high-profile fight on Saturday - was accused of likening homosexuality to paedophilia in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.

The 27-year-old's comments sparked fury from gay rights groups and more than 30,000 people signed a petition calling on the BBC to drop Fury from the 12-strong shortlist in a matter of hours.

Fury also received criticism for allegedly sexist comments about fellow nominee Jessica Ennis-Hill.

The comments came in an online video in which he also said "a woman's best place is in the kitchen and on her back, that's my personal belief".

But the BBC told ITV News that there are currently no plans to remove Fury from the list.

Petition calling for the removal of Tyson Fury from BBC's Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. Credit: Change.org

The Mail on Sunday quoted Fury as saying: "There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home.

"One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia."

The boxer angrily denied making the comments but the Mail and their chief sports writer Oliver Holt stood by their piece and published audio of the interview.

Chris Bryant, the Labour MP, was among those to criticise Fury's comments.

"I'm not celebrating Tyson Fury's win. His aggressive style of foul homophobia is precisely the kind that leads to young gay suicides," he tweeted.

A BBC spokesperson pointed out that the Sports Personality shortlist was compiled by a panel of industry experts and based on an individual’s sporting achievement.

However, BBC added, the nomination was not an endorsement of an individual’s personal beliefs either by the BBC or members of the panel.

The Sports Personality of the Year shortlist is decided by a panel of industry experts and reflects sporting achievement.

As Fury became heavyweight champion of the world last weekend, the panel felt that he should be a contender for this year’s award.

The overall winner of the award will of course be decided by viewers during the live show.

– BBC

Stonewall, the equality charity, expressed disappointment by BBC's decision to keep Fury as a contender for the award, telling ITV News:

We’re extremely disappointed by this decision.

Sportspeople,whether they like it or not, are role models – not just for their athletic ability but also for their views.

They are looked up to and are respected bymany fans, including young people.

We are concerned that this nomination sends a message that being homophobic is ok and feel it is wrong to celebrate someone who has made such offensive comments, regardless of their sporting prowess.

– Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall
British boxing sensation Tyson Fury. Credit: Reuters

Despite his nomination, Fury believes he has no chance of adding the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award to his title belts as he is "too controversial and outspoken".

"I will never win Sports Personality of the Year, so there's no point in me thinking about it - they won't let me win it.I'm too controversial and outspoken!" he told BBC 5 Live earlier this week.

"I suppose it's avery good thing to be nominated for Sports Personality Of The Year. There's been a lot of great sportspeople who have won it in the past. For me to be put in line for it, it's a great honour," he added.

The sports personality of the year winner will be announced at the culmination of a liveshow staged at The SSE Arena in Belfast on December 20.

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