The topic of homophobia in football has been in the limelight as of late, and now the chairman of the football association has said that an openly gay footballer would face “significant abuse”.
The FA, Greg Clarke, made this comments when appearing before Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee, and admitted that they have a long way to go before discrimination in football is done away with.
He said: “I would be amazed if we haven’t got gay players in the Premier League, and I am personally ashamed that they don’t feel safe to come out.”
The first footballer to come out and continue playing was of course Justin Fashanu, who sadly took his own life in 1998. Naturally, Greg was asked if a player coming out now would face similar backlash to Justin, even though he took his life almost a decade ago.
Greg answered: “I think there would be significant abuse, because I don’t think we’ve cracked the problem yet. I think what we have in football is a cross-section of society. When you get a sample size of 4 million [football fans], they tend towards the behaviour of the general population.”
“There’s a very small minority of people who hurl vile abuse at people who they perceive are different. Our job is to stamp down hard on that behaviour. There was an example at the weekend, where there are allegations that Luton fans were hurling homophobic abuse at a group of men who they perceived to be gay. That behaviour is disgusting and needs stamping out, and I am absolutely determined that we do stamp it out.”
Greg also discussed why he thinks that gay players choose not to come out, saying: “If I was a gay man, why would I expose myself to that [abuse]? Our job is to identify anybody guilty of persecuting in any way members of a minority group. Our job as the regulator is to come down like a ton of bricks, and make sure that kind of abhorrent behaviour is driven from the game.”
While I am no expert on football, one of the issues that I can see is that football (both American or otherwise) seems to attract a very “man’s man” and “bro-ish” type of person, which would then probably lead to school-boy like behaviour of abusing gay people and throwing around accusations of homosexuality. But, naturally, the issue is much more deep and complex than just that, but let’s hope that we at least see some progress form the FA soon.