Last week reports emerged that two Premier League players are planning to come out as gay, and I really hope they do.
I’ve always been proud to be a football/soccer fan but the failure of the sport in general to tackle homophobia is a source of embarrassment to a degree. Personally, I don’t understand why sexuality should be an issue in sport – if you can score a thirty yard screamer or take on three men and produce a killer pass I don’t mind where you put your winky as long as it’s consensual and legal – but for some reason there is still a ‘stigma’ attached to being a gay footballer, when to all intents and purposes that stigma does not exist anymore in the real world.
Now it isn’t even particularly necessary for celebrities to ‘come out’, and when they do it isn’t a big deal. Maybe there are niche areas where homophobia is still rife or prevalent, country and hip hop music for example, but overwhelmingly the tide has turned and any reasonably minded person knows discrimination based on sexuality is wholly unacceptable, ridiculous and outdated.
Social media and the terraces have been rampant with speculation as to the identities of the two players so says the Daily Mail but I have no intention of fuelling the rumour mill by having a guess. Like I said, really who cares? These guys will go down as trailblazers in English football if they do come out but it comes at least 10 years too late and so far behind the rest of society it’s laughable. It should have happened with Justin Fashanu, but his unfortunate fate is often used as a reason why it has taken so long for football to catch up, or get anywhere near catching up, with the rest of the world.
Until we get to a point where a player can live his life as a gay man, without having to officially announce his sexuality or be scrutinised as a result, football and sport will lag behind civilised society and I fear that moment is still a long way away.