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Why is homosexuality still taboo in men’s football?

By Leah Kellman Feb 10, 2023
man in the middle of the image is not focused but the man on the right is focused and smiling at the other man.Josh Cavallo is the only top flight professional footballer to come out as gay. Credit: AWAPAC/Shutterstock

Men’s football – the epitome of male sport where men are men and heaven
forbid you should be gay.

Only three professional male footballers have been open about their sexuality,
one in Australia and two in the UK. Why aren’t there more male footballers who are openly queer?

Women in the sport have faced their fair share of homophobia over the years, but they are finally getting the respect and support of fans, but for men it is still a big issue as they are expected to fit the masculine stereotype.

Josh Cavallo, the Australian left back who plays for Adelaide United, changed the world of football when he publicly announced that he was gay on Twitter in 2021.

He said in his statement: “Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer.

“Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that hadn’t
crossed paths before.”

Cavallo’s coming out inspired Blackpool FC striker, Jake Daniels. The 18-year-old came out last May and is the UK’s only active male footballer to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Daniels told Sky Sports that it was also Tom Daley’s advice from his alternative Christmas message on Channel 4 the year before that made him want to come out.

This resonated with Daniels and encouraged him to be his true self.

During a Channel 4 interview, Daniels told Daley: “It’s been the best thing I have ever done in my life with just the support, how I feel to be able to live my life and how I want to live it.”

Jake Daniels speaking with Olympic diving champion, Tom Daley about his coming out story.

Despite fearing what people might think of him, he received a ton of support from celebrities such as Elton John, Matt Lucas and Sir Ian McKellen. As well as sports stars and pundits such as Gary Lineker, Jamie Carragher and Jack Grealish.

In 2022, Zander Murray, who plays in the non-professional Lowland League,
become the only Scottish player to come out.

Despite the overwhelming love and support from fans, he has received some negative backlash from trolls on social media.

In 2018 ex-footballer and Justin Fashanu’s younger brother, John Fashanu told Good Morning Britain that there are currently well-known Premier League footballers who are but can’t come out as their reputation would be destroyed by the toxic volatile behaviour from some supporters.

Fashanu later went on to defend Qatar’s ban of the One Love Armband and said that players should not make a political statement whilst playing there.

John Fashanu speaking to Susanna Reid and then GMB host, Piers Morgan about bigotry in football.

Kingston journalism lecturer, Colin Crummy who investigated the homosexuality issue in 2013 said: “Back then, people I talked to for the story were saying gay footballers were out to teammates, managers, family and friends but they were afraid of the reaction on the pitch.”

He added: “Jake Daniels coming out at the start of his career is a very positive
sign.”

There is clearly still a long way to go, but with changing the attitudes of players and the FA saying there is no place for discrimination in football, there is hope that more change will follow, including to the attitudes of fans.

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Role: Features editor

By Leah Kellman

Role: Features editor

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