As a detailed and thorough survey of professional footballers in the UK reveals that 57% consider the sport to be homophobic, PinkNews.co.uk’s only slightly less comprehensive children’s survey suggests a more tolerant future for gay footballers.
Interrupting a kick about in a local playground, the young teens initially giggled when I asked them if sexuality should come into play in football, (my fault – I shouldn’t have used the hilarious “s” word), but were happy to talk about their understanding of the “gay footballer” issue.
“There’s this boy in our team who’s usually a reserve, and when he messes something up we call him “gay boy”,” a 13 year old London School boy said. “He might not be gay. Actually he probably isn’t gay, but he is bad at football”.
“I don’t think footballers are gay” his younger brother noted, “because they have girlfriends like Posh Spice. but it wouldn’t matter if they were as long as they were good at football”.
“Duh! Footballers can be gay, there’s nothing stopping them,” said a feisty 10 year old girl wading into the debate. “It wouldn’t make any difference. You could be gay and be good at football. I’m a girl and I’m better than the boys.”
A group of slightly older teenagers had a rather different take on the subject. “If a footballer was gay I wouldn’t want his poster up on my door,” said a 14 year old. “People might think I fancied him.”
Do you think it would be ok for a footballer to be gay, I asked the boy hovering between the two-rucksack goal? “No,” he grunted. Why? “Just coz”.
The other boy playing with them had a more liberal take on the question: “As long as the player is good, I couldn’t give a shit,” he replied.