Totally non-Forest rambling really, but quite interesting nonetheless, I was sent an interesting email today from a chap from Staffordshire University who is conducting a survey regarding football fans and their attitude to homosexuality of players. It’s not a subject I’ve ever really given much thought to, to me somebody’s sexual orientation isn’t really relevant to their ability as a footballer – and that tends to be the focus of my interest in them, however, is it true that more broadly football is still steeped in homophobia?
Max Clifford thinks so in regard to fans’ attitudes to gay players – or at least, he’s extrapolating what he believes to be true because it’s rather unusual for footballers to admit it publically. Mr Clifford has advised three top players that it would be unwise to reveal their sexual orientation given that ‘football is steeped in homophobia’. Of course, many Forest fans might remember Justin Fashanu’s spell with the Reds, one of few openly gay footballers.
Aside from how awful he turned out to be on the pitch, he lead a troubled life off it too – and tragically took his own life – perhaps not the best benchmark to use as a gay footballer, despite being one of the few examples we have available. The survey was prompted by the PFA withdrawing from a campaign against homophobia in football, suggesting that it would be unfair on the player or players leading such a move due to abuse they’d receive.
I think that’s not a far-fetched view, if you draw a parallel with the very well-backed Kick Racism Out of Football campaign – whilst laudable and a great cause – does the odd billboard, kids walking round the pitch with a banner etc really make a fervent racist bigot change their mind? I doubt it, to be honest – and much the same with people who already have fixed views on homosexuality – all a campaign would do, in my view, is provide targets for abuse from certain sections of teams’ supporters across the country.
It’s sad that’s how life is, but I think that’s what would happen from my experience of different supporters around the country – I certainly believe it would be true of our own fans.
According to Wikipedia there are no openly gay footballers in the top four divisions. I don’t think anybody really knows what proportion of people are likely to be gay, but surveys have shown – for men – figures ranging from 5-10% of the population. If each of the 92 clubs in the top four divisions had 20 players in their ‘first team’ squads, that’s 1840 people – you’d expect, on average, 92 – 184 of them to be gay at least. So either there is prejudice to the point where homosexuals are excluded from the game at the highest level, or – more likely – are too scared to admit it (or, maybe, don’t want to).
Should you wish to take part in the survey, then click this link. If you have any other thoughts of course it would be interesting to hear them – as a fairly run of the mill straight football fan I’d never really considered the subject in much depth. Would we seriously, though – as a populace – judge a footballer on whether they’re gay or not ahead of their footballing ability? It seems ludicrous when written, but sadly, I think many would – and put them in a partisan and vocal crowd those attitudes can spread all to easily to those who would perhaps normally be more rational.
Filed under: Thoughts |