The Football Association’s attempts to make contact with gay professional footballers have drawn a blank, with “not one” willing to meet the organisation’s chairman, Greg Clarke, even in secret or anonymously, reports the Telegraph. Mr Clarke commented:
“I’ve met a lot of gay activists, gay publishers. I went down to Stonewall, watched a game, had a beer in the bar afterwards – and talked about the issues. At the semi-pro level and below, nobody’s worried. I haven’t met one player at professional level who would even agree to meet me in the middle of nowhere for a conversation over a cup of coffee. Not one.”
Ryan Atkin | Sky News | 17150
Gay Activist congratulates Ryan Atkin, England’s first openly gay professional official. The Football Association welcomed his revelation of his sexuality as a landmark sign of progress.
“Ryan’s declaration marks an important moment in the game and reinforces the fact that refereeing really is open to everyone,” said Neale Barry of the FA. “He believes people who are happy in their own skin perform better and I couldn’t agree more. Our role is to support all referees, aid their development, maximise their potential and, above all, help ensure their experiences are positive.”
“I myself have never been a victim of homophobic abuse but I am aware others have been. The biggest challenge I might face in the future as an openly gay referee would potentially be dealing with homophobia that could come from players, spectators and possibly even refereeing colleagues, though so far I have found officials within football to be very open-minded. It’s something the game can be proud of,” said Ryan.
Gay Gooners/Islington Gazette | 17074
The Islington Gazette profiles the Gay Gooners, gay supporters of Arsenal football club. They are the biggest LGBT football fans group in the world. There are 500 members, with 40 per cent women. Dave Raval is chairman, and was one of the founding members in 2013.
The Gooners aim to stamp out homophobia in football, provide a safe forum for LGBT people to enjoy Arsenal, and act as a social group.
“The recent question has always been: ‘When is a male player going to come out?’ [Players have come out in women’s football.] But when we started Gay Gooners, our question was: ‘When are the fans going to come out?’
“It’s just as important for LGBT fans to be visible in the game. There are hundreds of us. We don’t accept what some people would call ‘banter.’ We don’t accept a football culture where a male player has yet to come out.”
Gay Gooners was the first LGBT fans group to be recognised by a professional club, as Arsenal did. There are now 30 groups in the UK.
File photo | Rex | 17047
University researchers have been busy lately.
A University of British Columbia study found that in the last 15 years, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are half as likely to play sports compared to straight teens. In 1998, five out of 10 gay students played formal or coach sports. By 2013, that proportion had dropped to three in 10.
The level of participation dropped from 62 per cent to 52 per cent for lesbian girls; bisexual girls it dropped from 48 per cent to 38 per cent, and bisexual boys, the participation dropped from 59 per cent to 42 per cent. The study involved 99,373 adolescent students across British Columbia.
Meanwhile, female bosses are more likely to hire gay and lesbian job candidates over heterosexuals, according to a new study of 400 managers by The University of Sussex. This comes as a surprise because past research showed gay and lesbian jobseekers were usually at a disadvantage.
Women favoured homosexual candidates, while males were more likely to choose a straight applicant. “These results show that bias against gay men and lesbians is much more nuanced than previous work suggests. Hiring decisions made by teams of both men and women could lead to less biased decisions,” commented Dr Benjamin Everly of the business, management and economics department at Sussex University.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens half as likely to play sports: UBC study
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.
Greg Clarke | Tony O’Brien/Reuters | 17011
Greg Clarke, the chairman of the English FA, says he has spoken to gay players about providing more support and helping them to come out as a group. “I put the message out there that if a number of top-level pros want to come out, why don’t we synchronise it, so one person doesn’t have to come out on their own,” he told the Times.
“The Premier League, the Football League and the FA could do it at the start of the season,” he added.
Clarke has been FA chairman since September. In October he said he would not recommend a player coming out because of the risk of abuse, mainly from fans of opposing teams.
Orlando United | 17002
Orlando City’s Soccer Club has unveiled 49 rainbow seats in its stadium, in honour of the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting of June 2016. The team has replaced a section of seating in the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
It is the latest in a line of tributes the Soccer Club has paid to the victims of the incident.