David Gough: GAA’s rainbow wristband ban drew far more attention

Inter-county referee David Gough believes the GAA’s decision not to allow him wear a rainbow wristband during the Dublin-Tyrone Division 1 game last March drew more attention than had he been permitted to don it.

The Meath official had requested permission to wear the garment to highlight the problem of homophobia and his call for a “yes” vote in the marriage referendum but was turned down on the grounds it was a political statement.

“I just felt at the time the environment and the atmosphere in the country was right to be able to let people know about my sexuality,” he said on Newstalk’s The Moncrieff Show yesterday.

“I also felt my position within the GAA would allow me to reach a certain community around the country that maybe had been untouched in the conversations which had ran up until then. It was disappointing I didn’t get to wear it but the fact I didn’t raised way more media attention than I was ever going to get if I did wear it.”

Gough, who takes charge of the Down v Donegal Division 1 game in Newry this evening, says referees retain confidence because they are more au fait with the rulebook than others.

“Our knowledge of the rules is so far superior to most people watching. They don’t understand sometimes what’s going on. I played up until 28 and I would hold up my hands and say like most club players within the country I had never read the rules of Gaelic football

“I also play tennis; I couldn’t stand on a tennis court without knowing the rules of tennis and I find it fascinating now in the position I’m in to think I played a sport for 21 years without even knowing the rules correctly. It was someone else’s perceptions of what the rules were through coaching.”


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