Guest post from William (MadeToLove from the comments)! Big topic, big views… ENJOY!
Big congratulations have to go out to Barack Obama for some pretty stand-up work of late. In the last couple of weeks he has publicly backed same sex marriage and criticised outdated gun laws in America. That’s some pretty historic stuff. My only advice now to the president would be to wear a helmet out in public for a bit…
A big sniper proof one.
The issue about same sex marriage has sparked off a lot of chatter and debate online. It’s made me think about whether homosexuality and homophobia in football are issues that the FA and its respective clubs have tackled properly (bad pun clearly intended), or whether more could be done using the platform of football itself to promote societal tolerance.
Apparently up to ten percent of people in the UK have confirmed gay or bisexual status, according to various recent surveys. If we take that as an accurate cross section of society then by that logic 10 percent of professional athletes should be gay or bisexual. Extrapolate that to men in the premier league and that’s ten percent of six hundred players. That’s roughly sixty players who are statistically more than likely to be gay or bi-sexual, remember that’s just in the Premier league alone. That number could certainly be lower and you could potentially half that amount but even so, when was the last time you heard about even one of them, like ever? Are they being advised by their clubs to stay quiet? That would be pretty shocking if the case because if a musician, film star or writer is gay nobody gives a well defined rats arse about it.
What makes sport stars so different? Not one single player currently in all four top divisions of English football has come out. There must be reasons for this. I know crowds can be brutal but instead of ignoring that fact surely we should face it head on, highlight the bigots and get them out of the stands and give the tickets to people who don’t needlessly hate on people. There is no room for that sort of thing in a modern society and there should be no room for it in football.
I personally suspect it’s ingrained fear from within the game that stops players being able to be upfront about their own sexual preference. A fear of what though I’m not exactly sure. Whether it be crowd abuse, ribbing from the other players or whatever, it’s not a progressive situation to be in and I think the FA as well as the clubs should do more than a cop out #Rainbowlaces campaign to address why the issue of gay players is still so taboo in our sporting culture.
In my opinion #Rainbowlaces was a good shout out for tolerance in general but did nothing to address the issue of homophobia actually within the game and on the stands. If we want progress then I think this strange code of silence regarding players sexuality needs to stop. The process needs to start with the FA , then the clubs, then if they want to be part of it the players.
Interestingly in 2005 the FA held a summit about the issue of homophobia in the game and as a result all the Premier League managers were asked by the BBC to give their opinions on the subject. All twenty refused. Let that sink in for a second. Not one had anything to say publicly on the matter. Maybe it’s something to do with the macho culture of sport, but hey, the army is pretty macho and they have taken huge strides in recent years towards accepting homosexual soldiers. If the army can do it then so can the sweet FA.
I often hear the argument from people that “Well, I don’t go around talking about the fact I’m straight, so why should they advertise the fact they are gay?”. That sort of attitude infuriates me slightly because ultimately all suppressed minorities eventually need to establish themselves in society in a way that perhaps unsuppressed majorities don’t. It’s a natural thing and it’s the reason we have The Black music awards and not the White ones.
The media in England have been on the look out for the next openly gay footballer since the unfortunate case of Justin Fashanu, Britain’s first one million pound black player. For anyone who doesn’t know about him he was the cousin of the beastly (now slightly strange) John Fashanu, and to this day the only top flight player to have publicly stated he was gay. His career took a nasty turn afterwards for various reasons and eight years later he killed himself. A sad situation indeed. Many people believe the intense scrutiny that coming out put on him was a big factor in pushing him over the edge. Many maintain this regrettable event has warned other players off from following suit.
Sport, football in particular cannot simply ignore its responsibility when it comes to issues like this. Kids (and a lot of adults for that matter) listen to sports stars more than they do politicians. Football has the power to unite people for a common cause , to make people see that we are all human we are all here on this rock and regardless of race, religious belief or sexuality we can work together. It doesn’t matter what you are or where you come from it’s how you play the game that matters. That’s what sport can do. It helped with the acceptance of black people into white society so surely it can act in a similar way for gay people to. Incidentally It’s good to hear that a little while ago Puma were looking to endorse the first openly gay player. Allegedly they called Sol Campbell about it but he had to politely tell them thank you but that he don’t swing that particular way! I guess Puma are still looking…
I’d imagine a fair amount of gay players in the premier league are actually happy or accepting of keeping quiet just to avoid the initial problems and bigotry they would face, but is that right? Football has the power and footballers have the responsibility to try and do things to move society forwards in a positive way. Not many people have that power or influence, they do.
That’s all I got. Hope I haven’t ruined your day 🙂