Basketball Ireland CEO Bernard O'Byrne resigns after "extremely ill-judged" Raheem Sterling post 4 months ago

Basketball Ireland CEO Bernard O'Byrne resigns after "extremely ill-judged" Raheem Sterling post

O'Byrne said he is "deeply apologetic over the hurt caused" by his remark.

Bernard O’Byrne has stepped down from his role as CEO and Secretary General of Basketball Ireland "with immediate effect" over a social media post made in the wake of England’s victory over Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-final.

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He posted the comment on Facebook following a penalty decision involving Raheem Sterling.

Under a BBC News post on Facebook titled ‘Should it have been a penalty for England against Denmark?’, O’Byrne, who is also a former CEO of the FAI, commented ‘BLACK DIVES MATTER’, a comment which has since been deleted.

A statement on Basketball Ireland's website regarding O'Byrne's departure reads: "The joint decision has been made by Mr. O’Byrne and the Basketball Ireland Board, to help the organisation move forward following a recent social media post by Mr. O’Byrne from a personal account.

O’Byrne said: “While I am hugely disappointed that this is how my decade with Basketball Ireland has ended, I understand that stepping down is in the best interests of the sport.

"I am deeply apologetic over the hurt caused by my remark and I am fully cognisant of the struggles with discrimination that many people are having to deal with in day-to-day life.

"My comment was an off-the-cuff, extremely ill-judged attempt at humour based on wordplay only, that was never intended to be racially insensitive or make light of organisations which have done so much to help raise awareness of inclusion and discrimination.

“I wish the Basketball Ireland community the very best for the future and hope they continue the impressive work and achievements that I have had the honour to assist with during the last 10 years.”

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Basketball Ireland chairman Paul McDevitt said he is "very disappointed" O'Byrne was retiring under these circumstances.

"We know that the basketball community and beyond has felt particularly let down over the last few days and we will continue to listen to and address any concerns that are raised. Basketball Ireland takes a zero tolerance stance on any form of discrimination, and diversity and inclusion are key pillars in our sport," McDevitt said.

“Bernard’s comment on social media was unacceptable. It has subsequently cast him in an unfavourable light, which is very unfortunate as over the last decade he has been a driving force within the basketball community in Ireland in addressing bullying and negative attitudes regarding gender, sexuality and race.

"His brief lapse in judgement does not reflect the person I know, nor Basketball Ireland as an organisation.”

O’Byrne joined Basketball Ireland in 2011. During his tenure, he helped clear the organisation’s legacy debt of €1.2m.

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In the last five years playing membership has increased by 66% to over 30,000 in 227 clubs, while more than 800 schools now participate in the sport.