Football gets red card for homophobia from MPs


Nigel Owens | Sky | 17029

Football and other sport fans who hurl homophobic abuse should be handed immediate and “lengthy” stadium bans in a “zero tolerance” approach. The Culture, Media and Sports Committee said attitudes towards gay people within sport – particularly football – are “out of step” with wider society.

They were “particularly disturbed” by the inclusion of boxer Tyson Fury on the shortlist of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year in 2015, despite his history of homophobic comments.

Football had a “problematic” history with homophobia, with anti-gay chants “relatively commonplace” at games, and homophobic leaflets were reported to have been handed out outside West Ham United’s ground in 2016.

Citing surveys which suggest that 72% of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at matches, MPs said they were “concerned” it was not taken seriously enough.

10 years ago, international rugby referee Nigel Owens came out as gay. His courage helped other players come forward and break down barriers within rugby. He agreed there should be “zero tolerance” towards homophobia.

There are no openly gay footballers in the Premier League, and MPs said attitudes inside clubs could be part of the problem; and some sports are being “robbed of talent” because of a high drop-out rate among young gay members.