Gay footballers – appreciated or unwelcome?

Gareth Thomas: A Rugby League player who has come out as gay and been subjected to abuse from the stands...

Back in June I posted about a survey tackling the issue of homosexuality in football, and largely reinforcing the general view that it’s rather a taboo subject.  Hopefully a few of you clicked through the link and filled in the survey as a result to help the study – certainly there must have been a reasonable response as the survey has reached the next phase.

It’s a pretty short survey to fill in, and focuses on whether or not you think it likely that a gay footballer is likely to come out – or indeed, whether you think they should.  Without wishing to influence what you may or may not think, from my point of view I don’t really see it as any different to people in any walk of life – your sexuality is your own business.

From spending a lot of time amongst football fans it’s only too clear that there is a huge groundswell of homophobic attitudes – ranging from what many may consider to be good-natured jocular banter right through to quite scathing abuse.  Certainly speculation around sexuality is often seen as ‘fair game’ for football fans to capitalise on – ask Graeme Le Saux, Sol Campbell or Ashley Cole even.

Would I be bothered if a Forest player came out the closet and said “I’m gay”.  I’d like to think not, but it would be at the back of mind that it would lead to a continual torrent of – albeit mindless – abuse either on the messageboards and, of course, in the stands from visiting fans (maybe even some home fans too).  I’m not sure if that’s enough reason to think a player should remain in the closet.

Personally as a football fan I’m not really interested in many aspects of a player’s lifestyle – so long as they are behaving professionally when in the public eye even on or off the pitch, and – more importantly – performing on it, that really is the sum total of my interest in their lives.  I realise some people have a more in depth fascination with footballers – particularly fans of Premier League ‘galacticos’.

But I digress, whatever I think shouldn’t influence yourselves – but I’d urge you to click the link to help the study.  Personally I can’t really see the good that a campaign would do – much like the anti-racism campaign, it won’t change anyone’s deep-seated prejudices – I suppose it might deter them from expressing them openly if it might lead to punishment.

You can read more about the campaign in The Yorkshire Post by clicking here, and in The Sunday Herald by clicking here too.  You can fill in the survey by clicking here.  Thanks!

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