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article imageMost UK soccer fans say gay players should come out of the closet

By Andrew John     Jul 28, 2010 in Lifestyle
A survey shows that more than 90 percent of British soccer fans would support gay players if they came out of the closet.
According to a report in today’s Daily Star, there are dozens of gay players in the game in the UK, but most will not admit to being so.
Attitudes, though, are changing, says the paper, quoting Professor Ellis Cashmore, of Staffordshire University, who said: “A lot of people said they would prefer it if gay footballers came out because they don’t think they would have to put up with that much abuse.
“The fans are of the opinion that when we watch football [soccer] every week, we know we are watching gay players but actually it doesn’t matter to us.
“We have a new generation of football fans, managers, coaches and players themselves. They don’t actually care very much about a person’s sexual orientation.”
Cashmore says players should follow the lead of the Welsh rugby ace Gareth Thomas, who came out recently and is campaigning for an end to homophobia in soccer.
A recent online survey showed that soccer was the most homophobic sport in the UK.
Tennis took the top spot, with 65 percent of respondents saying it was the most gay-friendly.
Rugby scored 29 percent, but just 6 percent of respondents said soccer was Britain’s most gay-friendly sport, says Stonewall, the UK gay-equality lobby group.
Homophobic chanting
Gareth Thomas, a former Wales rugby captain and international high-scorer who recently came out as gay – a rarity in sport – said after that survey: “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.”
Thomas appeared at a recent Stonewall dinner with the gay tennis ace Martina Navratilova, seen in our picture with Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall.
Summerskill said at the time: “There’s not a single openly gay professional player in British football. Perhaps if football had a wider pool of talent to choose from, our World Cup performance wouldn’t be quite so pitiful.”
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