According to several papers and television sport shows in Latin America this week, that was the scene in a Honduran soccer stadium on Saturday when Vida team member Baryan Beckeles tied a game with Savio Sports and team-member Orlin Peralta gave him apretty stunning kiss (right).
"A passionate celebration" says Argentinian news agency Telam, "Days of love in the times of soccer" says Los Angeles' La Opinion (which should know better), "They hooked up in midfield" screams Diario Show, "Love, Love, Love" says Peruvian tabloid La Primera.
Except the the kiss never happened. Or so allege the two players with some video evidence to back them up.
Here is Beckeles speaking to the Honduran newspaper La Prensa on Monday, after the photo was published:
“I am a little upset with what has been published and much more about the photo, since it is damaging to our work and family environments. I know that at no moment did I do that, I didn't kiss my teammate, and I will never kiss a man like me. I think all of this is a misunderstanding."
He added: "My family, in that sense, is at peace because I have defined who I am and what my tastes are; but I am certain, that whatever it is, this is uncomfortable because I believe that a mother or my brothers never expect to see a son or a brother in something like this, kissing another man."
Peralta, in the same article, backs Beckeles and says that they never kissed.
On Thursday, the Honduran sports paper Crónometro reported that a newly released video seemed to corroborate the players' statements (see video here). The video shows the players embracing at the time the photo was allegedly shot but it never shows them kissing passionately.
In an interview, the two players express relief that the new video has surfaced and say that it proves that they had been right all along.
The media “acted with full malice," says Beckeles, who says nobody questioned the photo's veracity.
“If they doctored that photo, it's of no interest to me, the damage is already done to me," says Beckeles, "there were many photographers and television cameras in the stadium and the only one to show up with that weird photo was that guy."
The players indicated they might sue on the basis of defamation of character and have certainly indicated that they are uncomfortable being portrayed as gay. All in all it's yet another instance in which both media and soccer players get caught in a homophobic tempest in a teapot. And none come off looking pretty.
- Homophobia in soccer, Part 71: Maradone vs. Pelé (March 30, 2009)
- Homophobia in soccer, Part 70: Dalasso and his cybercheating (May 17, 2008)
- Homophobia in soccer, Part 69: Honduran coach Edwin Pavón (May 6, 2008)
- Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo says he is not gay (May 6, 2008)
- Homophobia in soccer, Part 67: Luciano Moggi and Jorge Luis Pinto (May 3, 2008)
- Trans panic in soccer, Part 64: Ronaldo's big night out (May 3, 2008)
- Homophobia and racism in soccer, Part 65: Hugo Sanchez (March 31, 2008)
- Homophobia in soccer, Part 64: Hernan Dario Gomez (Nov. 16, 2007)
- Los Dogos: World gay soccer champs (Sept. 29, 2007)
- Soccer player "outed" in Peru as Argentina hosts gay soccer tournament (Sept. 26, 2007)