According to a survey conducted by BBC Radio 5, most sports fans in England, Wales and Scotland would be comfortable with their club signing a gay player.
A very encouraging 82% of supports said that they would have no issue with a gay player. However, despite this 8% of people said they would stop watching their favourite team.
This was an online survey which covered 4,000 people, and was commissioned by Afternoon Edition and carried out by ComRes. The poll study also found that 71% of football fans think we need to do more to educate fans about homophobia.
As you may recall, all this started because of accusations of rampant homophobic abuse at football matches, and 77% of all sports fans – 50% of football supporters said they have heard such abuse at matches.
Chris Sutton, who previously criticised FA Chairman Greg Clarke for saying that gay players would face homophobic abuse, said: “Coming out wouldn’t be a problem in the workplace. Working at a football club is just like anywhere else. Players I played with wouldn’t bat an eyelid. This 8% shouldn’t be allowed in football grounds. By not taking it on, the 8% are the winners in all of this. Greg Clarke should be taking these people on. It’s bonkers in our society that people like this can dictate whether someone can come out or not.”
Simone Pound, head of equality and diversity at the Professional Footballers’ Association, also spoke out on the lack of visibility for gay players and said that the FA were not “blaming any one particular group”.
She continued:”I have worked in the game for over 15 years and I have certainly seen a shift in the culture as well as greater understanding and acceptance of LGBT people. Coming out is a personal journey that is up to each and every individual. The PFA will continue our work tackling homophobia until someone does come out and thereafter.”
The survey didn’t just look at football, however, and here’s what else it found:
- More sports fans (12%) would feel uncomfortable with a rival player joining their club than a gay player (8%)
- 7% of sports fans would stop watching their team if they signed a gay player
- 57% of sports fans believe gay players should come out to help others do the same
- 18% of sports fans believe gay players should “keep it to themselves”
- 15% of sports fans think having a gay player on a team would make other team-mates feel uncomfortable
- 50% of football fans say they have heard homophobic abuse, 51% have heard sexist abuse and 59% have heard racist abuse