Unless this is taken seriously it will become an embarrassing and shameful blot on our country’s reputation.
Of a country of over 4,000 professional footballers, not one has openly come out as gay. Does homosexuality not apply to footballers? It seems unlikely. Why is it then, that there are possibly hundreds of gay footballers who are staying in the closet?
I believe nothing will change until the FA truly starts taking this issue seriously. Racism was common place on the terraces of Premiership clubs in the 1970s and 80s. It was only when the FA started handing out hefty fines to clubs and banning those individuals shouting racist abuse that the issue began to be tackled.
I have been to countless football stadiums across the country and never heard a player racially abused. When you compare that to the vicious racism witnessed on the stands of many Italian and Spanish clubs, it illustrates how their respective football associations have failed in keeping up with the times. If the FA are not careful, the same could be said about them with regards to homophobia in English football.
There needs to be more high profile players and managers speaking out on the issue. A recent FA initiative to combat homophobia in football appealed to high-profile players to make a stand on the issue.
The response was silence. The initiative was scrapped and the issue was forgotten about, again. I think players have a social responsibility and if more of them had the courage to speak out against homophobia in football it could act as a catalyst for further progression.
The longer this issue is brushed under the carpet, the more problematic it will become. I really hope we see an openly gay footballer playing in the Premiership, only then will we see things move forward. But for that to happen there needs to be more leadership coming from the FA and football’s big names.
Homophobia is wrong; the vast majority of this country is united in that notion and it is something we should be proud of. However, our national sport is well and truly stuck in the dark ages and unless this is taken seriously it will become an embarrassing and shameful blot on our country’s reputation.