Pink News the vacuousness of waiting for the first out player in a top UK football team, when the real issue is the need for action within the sport to fight homophobia within management, the team, the pitch, and the stadiums.
Monday’s BBC3 programme Britains Gay Footballers presented by Amal Fashanu, niece of Justin Fashanu, generated serious debate about homophobia in football, in mainstream media and the football blogosphere.
Barnsley FC’s goalie David Preece suggested Amal Fashanu was the wrong choice to investigate the matter. This viewpoint, in an otherwise thoughtful article , is somewhat unkind: it’s arguably the very fact that so few footballers are willing to candidly speak out on homophobia that it has been left to a 23-year media studies graduate and model to ask some hard questions.
Amal deserves credit for being the first to call to account her own father, John Fashanu, whose chilling, public rejection of his vastly more talented brother, compounded the devastation that Justin must have felt.
The programme was most notable for challenging the perception of football being an impenetrable bastion of homophobia. Max Clifford’s intransigent doom-mongering about how coming out would ruin a footballer’s career challenged, by footage of Sweden’s openly gay player Anton Hysén enjoying changing-room banter with team-mates and support from the stands. Perhaps the greatest coup of all was the willingness of a premiership player, QPR captain Joey Barton, to speak out and ridicule ‘archaic’ attitudes of managers who are preventing players from being open.
There is in fact more reason for hope in the offence taken by Preece at what he regards as the demonisation of footballers. “I couldn’t think of a more welcoming place to reveal your sexual preferences than inside a footballer’s dressing room’
However, the overall picture is far from one of acceptance. Homophobic chanting is a weekly endurance for Brighton’s fans; and a string of homophobic callers, one asking for separate changing rooms, left Danny Campbell and guests of his BBC Radio 5 phone-in dumbfounded last Thursday. Statistics show that 29 percent of the UK population thinks same-sex relations are sometimes or always wrong, and an Observer poll in 2008 stated that nearly one in four thinks homosexuality should be recriminalised. Football, being the nation’s favourite sport is simply a barometer of the bigotry that is rife and unchallenged in society.
The disappointment with the programme was that no managers or high-ranking FA officials were interviewed. A significant amount of direction and resources will be needed to change the culture and attitudes within football, through club hierarchies and at grass roots, Sunday league level too.
Currently, the FA and the government are patting themselves on the back for putting together an LGBT charter, full of good intentions about banishing homophobia and transphobia from the game. But the precise details of how this campaign will make life better for LGBT players and supporters are anything but clear.
However, instead of pressing the FA on this matter, the media and some in the gay community obsess themselves with the moronic question: when will we see an out gay player? I suspect this is driven as much by the tabloid press going to ever more desperate measures to titillate readers and buck declining sales figures, and some activists seeking another trophy in the role model cabinet.
Why should a footballer come out to the whole nation? Most of us are out to friends and work-colleagues, but that’s all. True, the media is no longer full of homophobic columnists like the Star’s Brian Hitchen and the Sun’s Gary Bushell, whose innuendo-laden diatribes reinforced the very worst prejudices. But even if the coming out were reported in glowing terms, the very experience of being in the media spotlight can be ruinous for concentration and performance. And as the Leveson inquiry has revealed, the extremes that reporters go to, to sniff out an exclusive could make life intolerable.
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|7-9 September 2012|
Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.
Learn more HERE.
|26-28 October 2012|
The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.
Learn more HERE.
|17-20 January 2013|
Sin City Shootout
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.
Learn more HERE.
|13-16 June 2013|
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.
Learn more HERE.