Easy Words but Difficult Actions

We've seen the issue of homosexuality in football continue to appear in the media this week. It  started with FA chairman Greg Clarke's comments earlier in the week when he said that an openly gay player would receive "significant abuse". I've already shared my thoughts on Greg Clarke's comments but as the week has gone on we have heard reactions from people involved in high levels of the sport. 

Firstly we had Chris Sutton, a pundit I don't have much time for, write his piece in the Daily Mail, a newspaper that I don't have much time for, you can read the article here. However, despite my reservations about the paper and pundit in question I did think it was an interesting article. I find that Chris Sutton has a habit of saying anything that will get him more attention and I think that may be the case here but he did make some interesting thoughts. He says that "there has never been a better for a footballer to come out and say 'I am gay'". I do agree that there has never been a better time, society is becoming more tolerant of homosexuality, but I get the impression that Sutton is implying that it would be easy. I definitely do not think it would be easy for those first players. 

He also says that "it will be the best thing happens to the homophobia debate". Again I do agree with Sutton that a player coming out would be a huge and positive step forward in the issue of homosexuality in football. However, what Sutton appears to have ignored here is the difficulty that those first players would have to endure. He seems to have forgotten that it requires a brave, brave player to take that initial step that will drive the debate forward. 

However I do think that some of Sutton's comments were completely off the mark. He said that "I'm convinced 99.9% of people would share the same view, so are we now setting the levels based on how the 0.1% would react?". There is some validity in what he says but there are two points here that I feel I need to cover. Greg Clarke talked about removing the homophobic atmosphere from football. Sutton seems happy for a minority to exist and allow them to preach hate. We should strive to remove homophobia, in all forms, from football and not allow any minority to exist, no matter how small. This brings me to the second point of Sutton's that I disagree. I think the percentage of people who are homophobic within football is a lot higher than 0.1%. There will also be supporters out there who aren't necessarily homophobic but who use homophobic language without realising it. I often get the impression that straight players and fans don't fully appreciate homophobia when it exists in football. They perhaps develop a deafness to it whereas members of the LGBT community can pick up on it a lot easier. I have been in situations were I have heard homophobic comments at football that nobody else has picked on as being unacceptable.  

For example here is a video of thousands of Hearts fans singing homophobic abuse 

This was only four years ago and its hard to say that this is only 0.1% of fans. I can't remember Sutton's outcry at this singing but perhaps now that it is become a fashionable subject to talk about he has decided to join in. For those of us who are members of the LGBT community it is an ongoing battle that doesn't just appear every now and then. 

Someone who has constantly spoken about the issue of homosexuality in football, not just when it is fashionable, is Joey Barton. A hugely controversial figure and someone who is disliked by many for a number of reasons but I will give him credit for his support of the LGBT community. He spoke to Guardian journalist Owen Jones, who himself is openly gay, this week. 

 I thought that Joey Barton spoke very well and made some excellent points. He says that players avoid talking about the subject because they fear that they get accused of being gay. Barton says this has happened to him before. I don't think this attitude is restricted only to players I believe it also exists among fans. A fan would have no issue standing up and challenging someone who made a racist comment. However it is hard to imagine a fan standing up amongst a group to challenge a homophobic comment. Certainly from my experiences I have never seen someone challenge a homophobic comment and I've heard many during my time involved in playing and supporting football. I get the impression that if a fan did challenge such a comment that they would be accused to being gay. This reason has previously prevented me from challenging such behaviour. I think that in time attitudes would change once there are more openly gay players. 

We do still have a long way to go however the longer the subject remains in the media spotlight the more fans are exposed to the fact that homophobia is unacceptable. 

"Significant Abuse"

The issue of homosexuality in football has popped into the media spotlight again in the last coupe of days. As I said in my introduction the blog will be a mixture between my personal story and football's relationship with homosexuality in general. In this post we look a footballer's wider relationship.

There are a couple of incidents that have caused the spotlight to move in that direction in the last couple of days. 

Firstly we had reports of homophobic chanting at a game between Leyton Orient and Luton Town. You can read the story by clicking here. Obviously it is not good to hear about such stories and it does serve to highlight that football does still have a problem with homophobia. However the good side to this story is that it is receiving public attention and is being condemned. It has taken a long time but it is encouraging to see this hate crime being treated for what it is. I remember not too long ago, within the last decade, when homophobic chants would ring out around entire stadiums and nobody would say anything because it was just "banter". Hopefully by bringing this behaviour to the attention of the public fans will realise that this sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable. I'm sure the people who were singing are not homophobic but are used to being part of a football culture where homophobia is acceptable. The quicker this behaviour is challenged and these attitudes are changed the better. 

Secondly we have seen the subject in the media because it came up when FA chairman Greg Clarke was answering questions from a Commons Select Committee. You can read about the story and he some of what he had to say by clicking here. There are bits of what he says that I completely agree with. Yes the FA need to do their bit and "stamp out abuse". This was covered a little earlier with relation to the homophobic chanting but it is crucial that the FA, and all other associations, create a safe and hate-free atmosphere for any potential gay players, fans or officials. 

I also agree with him when he says "I would be amazed if we haven't got gay players in the Premier League". I too would be amazed if there were not any gay players in the Premier League. Statistically everything points to there being some gay players in the league and it is a sad reflection that none of them feel ready to come out. 

However where I disagree with Clarke is when he says that a player would receive "significant abuse" if he revealed he was gay. I actually don't think that an out player would be a victim of abuse. There would be a tiny minority who would give abuse, but it is this same tiny minority who preach hate in all forms, not just homophobia, and I'm afraid that there will always be people like that in our society. I think the hate from this tiny minority would be completely drowned out by the massive amount of support a player would receive from the media, fans,  players and officials. I think a far bigger issue for the first player to come out will be trying to deal with the intense spotlight that would be shone on him. This would be a huge story for the media and, unfortunately, I can't see this player being able to avoid huge amounts of attention. Personally, I don't really see why it would need to be such a big issue but as we've seen with other former players like Hitzlsperger who have come out publicly it is a big deal to the media.

It does require some brave and pioneering players to come out and deal with this media attention for it to become a normal part of football. Once it becomes normal in football the media will lose interest and it will be easier for more and more players to come out. I think once we see those first players come out we will see more follow soon after. 

 If you agree or disagree with anything that I've said please leave a comment it will be interesting to see what other people's opinions are on the subjects touched today. 


The most obvious place to start with this blog seems to be to introduce myself, who I am, my story and the purpose of this blog.

I am a 25 year old homosexual male. For the vast majority of my life I stayed hidden in the closet terrified of having to come out and how I would be judged once I came out. However, on 30th January this year (2016) I decided that I would reveal my sexuality to my closest friends. After telling those initial close friends I started working through other friends and telling them. Soon after I told my friends I told my family. Despite the fears that engulfed me through my life about telling people I have received nothing but positive reactions.

However the purpose of this blog is not to re-tell my coming out story, although this story may be touched upon in due course. The purpose of this blog is to explore football’s relationship with homosexuality both my personal experience and the wider world of football. I am a passion supporter of a team and I play amateur football on a weekly basis. Despite the fact that I conquered my fear of telling my friends and family, and received a positive reaction, I still have not been able to come out the closet in my football team and I feel as if doing this is a long way off.

It is hard to pinpoint a particular reason why I have not felt able to tell people in my football team about my sexuality and, to be honest, there are probably a multitude of reasons. Hopefully by writing this blog I can explore these reasons and how homosexuality fits into football in general.