Openly gay former NBA star John Amaechi said Wednesday that homophobia remains entrenched in UK sports.

Amaechi came out gay three years after ending his professional basketball career in 2004.

The 40-year-old Amaechi on Wednesday received the Order of British Empire for services to sport and the voluntary sector. Prince Charles presented the award to the retired British player during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Speaking after the event, Amaechi described homophobia in sport as a “massive problem” that was often ignored or “relegated.”

“I think people approach bigotry like there's a hierarchy. Homophobia has always been to the bottom of that ladder. In sport there are institutions that haven't changed in 100 years and need to.”

Amaechi singled out the Football Association (FA): “If you compare their emphasis on racism to what they've done on homophobia it's an embarrassment.”

A FA spokesman defended the league's record in remarks to the BBC: “The FA hosts a regular working group around tackling homophobia and works alongside key stakeholders such as Stonewall and Kick It Out in making football (European soccer) accessible to all.”

“We have signed up for the Stonewall Diversity Champions program and will be delivering an action plan on inclusion of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people, which will be launched next year.”

Amaechi made similar remarks during an interview with BBC's Radio 5. (The audio is embedded in the right panel of this page.)