Austria's Marco Grüll was considered a strong contender to make Ralf Rangnick's squad for Euro 2024 | Johann Groder

Three soccer players with ambitions to represent their country at this summer’s European Championships have been dropped from the squad after their involvement in a recent incident of anti-gay chanting.

Rapid Vienna trio Marco Grüll, Guido Burgstaller and goalkeeper Niklas Hedl have been left out by Austria head coach Ralf Rangnick for a double-header of international friendly matches at the end of March.

Austria are preparing to take part in the men’s Euros in neighboring Germany in just three months’ time. It is the fourth time in the last five editions of the tournament that the country has qualified.

Grüll, Burgstaller and Hedl have not been dropped permanently, says Rangnick, but he has left them in no uncertain terms that he is deeply unimpressed by their behavior.

As reported by Outsports late last month, the incident of discrimination was caught on camera after Rapid’s 3-0 derby win over city rivals Austria Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga.

The videos showed Rapid players and club staff celebrating their victory. In one clip shared on social media, Grull and Burgstaller were alongside assistant coach Stefan Kulovits, chanting “wir sind keine oaschwoamen Veilchen!” which translates as “we are not little ass-loving violets.”

Last week, punishments were handed down to the players by Bundesliga chiefs including various suspensions of differing lengths, some of which were reduced in part on appeal.

Another previously unseen post-match video emerged Tuesday of more offensive singing and chanting, this time in a VIP area, with Hedl among those joining in – but the goalkeeper has escaped further charges.

However, later in the day, a serious sanction arising from the match was imposed on Rapid itself – a two-point deduction and hefty fine for the club over security issues and “discriminatory fan chants,” according to Der Standard. Rapid say they will appeal.

While public apologies for the homophobia were swiftly issued by the individuals involved, the players were told they must each attend three one-hour workshops in local schools as part of their rehabilitation.

Burgstaller, Grüll and Hedl all reportedly telephoned Rangnick to apologize to him personally. However, he still made the decision to leave them out for the forthcoming games against Slovakia and Turkey.

Making his announcement about the squad omissions Monday, Rangnick said: “This is something that I will not tolerate in a team where I am a coach, whether in a club or here with the national team.

“Everything we stand for with the national team is at the other end of the scale, and I told the boys that on the phone.

“I expect them to take this issue seriously and understand what it means for people when they are publicly insulted or discriminated against in such a way.”

Despite the suspensions of Burgstaller and Grüll for the final game of the regular season on Sunday, Rapid earned a 1-1 draw away to Austria Klagenfurt which secured them a top-six berth just before the league splits in two.

They go into the ‘Championship round’ playoff while Austria Vienna – their bitter rivals – lost out on goal difference and must enter the ‘Relegation round’.

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