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article imageSurvey: Soccer most anti-gay sport in UK

By Andrew John     Jul 14, 2010 in Lifestyle
Soccer has been voted the least gay-friendly sport in Britain in an online poll. Tennis took the top spot, with 65 percent of respondents saying it was the most gay-friendly.
Rugby scored 29 percent and just 6 percent of respondents said soccer was Britain’s most gay-friendly sport, says Stonewall, the UK gay-equality lobby group.
“The online poll, the latest Stonewall social media poll, backed up recent YouGov research for Stonewall which found that more than one in four fans think football is ‘anti-gay’ and three in five fans say anti-gay abuse dissuades players from coming out,” says the organization in a report today.
It quotes James Munro from the Lawn Tennis Association as saying: “As the national governing body for tennis in Britain, the Lawn Tennis Association is delighted that tennis has been recognized as a welcoming sport for all, regardless of age, ability, background or sexual orientation.”
Rugby player Gareth Thomas, a former Wales rugby captain and international high-scorer who recently came out as gay – a rarity in sport – said today: ‘The recent decision to fine the Castleford Tigers £40,000 for homophobic chanting directed at me sent a strong signal from the world of rugby about homophobia. By coming out, I hope to become a role model for any young gay people who aspire to be professional sports players.”
Speaking at this year’s Stonewall Equality Dinner, the Grand Slam and nine-times Wimbledon women’s singles champion Martina Navratilova said: ‘When I first came out in 1981, it was lonely out there. The phrase I heard was ‘career suicide.’ I’m told I lost millions in sponsorship, but I gained something of greater value – the opportunity to live my life with integrity.”
Institutionally homophobic
Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: “There’s not a single openly gay professional player in British football [soccer]. Perhaps if football had a wider pool of talent to choose from, our World Cup performance wouldn’t be quite so pitiful.”
He added: “Sadly, this survey demonstrates that football is institutionally homophobic. Too little action has been taken about an issue which deters not just gay players and fans from enjoying our national game, but also thousands of other fans too.
“Football has a firm track record tackling problems such as hooliganism and racism. But anti-gay abuse still almost always goes unchallenged. When England is looking to host and win the 2018 World Cup, football cannot risk this loss of potential talent and supporters.”
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