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EXCLUSIVE – PR guru Max Clifford: ‘If a gay footballer comes out, his career is over’

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  1. I personally don’t do football in any shape or form – doesn’t really interest me but there is still someway to go even in the world of sport before gays are free of discrimination. Maybe the time is now right for all gay football players to come out and fight. To show the world that football players are not little gods but football players plain and simple. Football players have been put on a pedestal and worshiped for as long as anyone can remember. The heroes of millions of people and it is about time that we made our presence felt and thoroughly understood by all. Gay footballers have the right to be gay and play football professionally and in amateur status, and be recognised for it.

  2. Brian Burton 5 Aug 2009, 5:28pm

    No one could have said it better–Great commenting.
    But Max old son, it is about time the position was reversed with footballers. They love bottom-pinching each other after kissing a lot on the field when goals are scored. For Gay Footballers to stay in the closet is an own-Goal.

  3. Interesting to read all of Max Clifford’s thoughts in this article. He seems to come at the issue from both ends of the spectrum! On the one hand he rightly says that high profile footballers should come out, confront the fans, and so change the public’s thinking, but on the other hand he is advising “If it came out that he [a footballer] had gay tendencies, his career would be over in two minutes”!

    Max wants to eat his cake and have it too! He wants to be seen to be saying the right and honourable thing, while at the same time he wants gay and bisexual footballers to remain in the closet and come pleading to him to protect them from the intrusions of the gutter press!

  4. Pumpkin Pie 5 Aug 2009, 5:53pm

    I’ll never understand how a sport with such a large amount of barbaric, under-educated and hateful fans came to be known as the beautiful game.

    In Max Clifford’s defence, Eddy, he is a PR guru. Appearance is his entire business, so of course he’s not going to advocate standing up to the bigots if it’ll make you look bad. That’s not how his world works. That aside, I must say I was quite impressed that a publicist would even say this much. “It’s almost like going back to the dark ages” is a refreshingly bold thing for a publicist to say about football fans. :D

  5. Pumpkin Pie, agreed, “Appearance is his entire business, so of course he’s not going to advocate standing up to the bigots if it’ll make you look bad” OR if it’ll stop him earning money protecting them from the evil evil press! (And when the footballer comes to him begging, he will of course be tempted to emphasize just how merciless and evil the gutter press is!)

  6. Like young RICH at number #1..

    I, too, don’t know one end of a football field from the other; doesn’t interest me, one iota and I live 3 minutes walk from the Man U ground; often see the players, zoomin’ along the road, past my Quentin Crisp-like hovel, in their Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Maseratis; probably late for ‘work’…

    It looks decidedly odd, these limousines, whizzing through this council estate…I can tell you…!

    Football is a religion..!
    It has its worshippers; its devotees; its adherents; its tribalism; its sectarianism; its rubrics; its holy books; its inexplicable/costing a fortune ‘home/away’ changes of ‘vestments’ its liturgical observances; its ‘sins’ for which there are ‘penalties’ in different colours……perhaps that’s why I find it all such a blyucxghghcgh…!

    Too much like the Catholic bleedin’ Church..!
    Too fancified….!
    I am a basic bod; bacon butties; egg and chips; T-shirt and slobs’ keks; nowt fancy; like to watch a blackbird diggin’ for its breakfast…two magpies vying as to which can scream the louder…

    I have no ‘side’..

    It’s a RELIGION alright…so if gays are ostracised from it, then….what do you expe…..?


  7. The minute a Catholic priest walked into his Bishop’s gaff and announced ….”Ahem.!…I am gay, your purpleness…it’s the dole queue…and at 35…? 40…? ….50?…what is ex-Reverend going to do…?
    So they keep quiet; keep up the pretence; and grab a bit when there’s owt up for grabs.
    Thailand, in my bar, 20+ years ago, I had one such priest.
    All the way from xyz in South America.
    All the way to Thailand for ‘a bit before I die, to see what the love of a young man…..etc’
    Crying every night into his glass at the waste of his life.

    Yep he was a priest alright…but just ever so slightly higher up the ladder than a mere Reverend Father…more yer actual Reverendissimum Dominum Cardinalem…and ‘papabile’ to boot.

    The sheer hypocrisy of it all.


  8. Max is taking a pragmatic line and I can see where he’s coming from, but if he ever hopes to turn things around, he’ll have to do more than simply advising all his clients to stay closeted until retirement.
    Homophobia in football has to be taken to task at so many levels, from managers to spectators to players. This isn’t a battle that will be won overnight, my feeling is that football sets the clock back on gay equality about 40 years.
    Never saw the point in the game myself… the scores are always different next week anyhow. No-one gets to stay the winner for long. Football’s a long-term exercise in existential futility.

  9. Our self serving politicians in shameless attempts to win votes claim they too stand on the terraces. They would have to be both blind and deaf not to be aware of the racism and prejudice that is expressed and that these sentiments are very widely held amongst 18 – 40 males, but they say nothing about it.

    “Clifford said: “The football media, generally speaking, are as bad as the world of football itself, full of ignorance and blind prejudice””
    Well it is remarkable to hear him say that. Rather than running with the mob for their own bottom line, the media could be using their influence to challenge prejudice and promote inclusive values, but they choose not to.

  10. I think Max Clifford is sending a hidden message to footballers with what he is saying. Its time the gay footballers came out of the closet and end this taboo. The likes of Clifford wants this kept in the closet as he feels it will hit his wallet with no marriages to sell to Hello and OK.

  11. “Meet the people that make up the FA. They’ve got round to dealing with racism, but homophobia? I wonder if they are any better than the people on the terraces.”

    I’d give him bonus points for that one – just last December the FA started a campaign against homophobia as “a key part of our remit”… with a budget of £20k.
    Apparently the ‘campaign’ was reliant upon a “major” advertising firm doing all the work for free and major international soccer stars donating their time (and airfare – 20k wouldn’t even fly many stars in first class).
    If I’m not mistaken the advertising was supposed to materialize 6 months ago, which I presume it did not – unless I missed the 30 second midnight satellite TV spots that £20k would buy.

    Fear not though!
    The FA is thoroughly investigating its next venture and devising a new strategy, via: a lecturer & reseracher at Leeds metropolitan, and a PhD student at Brunel.
    Of course the Leeds pair are specifically studying lesbian sports coaches and the PhD student is broadly focused on homophobic bullying in schools, but I’m sure those topics are REALLY close to the Premier League in practice.

  12. I liked Max Cliford’s careful analysis of the situation. I wonder how he’d handle it if a client said to him: ‘I want to come out and I want to continue my career and keep my home’. Given his expertise in PR, I’m sure Clifford’s answer would be fascinating.

  13. I know there are a few detractors – but Max means what he says, it’s an honest opinion and I admire his frankness.

    It is nonsense to say Max benefits financially to keep players in the closet – the media interviews and appearances, the sponsorship opportunities, would keep him very busy indeed, were one of his sports clients to declare his sexuality openly. He has the welfare of his clients as his top priority. Naturally, he takes a lot of convincing.


  14. Simon Murphy 6 Aug 2009, 12:10am



    I prefer synchronised swimming, thank you very much.

  15. Rich: “Maybe the time is now right for all gay football players to come out and fight.”

    Coming from somebody that has no interest in the game whatsoever, maybe you should keep your naive opinions to yourself. A good footballer maybe has 15-20 years to earn his money, (and often a considerable amount), – Many, many people never quite make it to professional status, let alone with a big team, so do you SERIOUSLY think someone is going to be THAT FUCKING STUPID and risk their entire career just on a principle of what they do in bed. Get real!! Not everyone is a right-on trendy that hangs out in gay boutiques in Soho. I agree once the ball starts rolling, there may be a sea-change, but nobody is going to be so moronic as to be the first one in the firing line. The last, (and only), gay footballer I remember doing that was Justin Fashanu, who was ostracised by his family and the sport and he ended up topping himself in Chariots.

  16. Okay so a footballer coming out might end his career but why the hell don’t those who have already ended their careers do it – it would be one step closer to making those still playing think about doing it too.

  17. This is the 21st Century, in the UK! We (LGBT) people now have our rights; we are EVERYWHERE! Look at the likes of Clare Balding, John Barrowman, Brian Paddick for starters; positive role models. Trooper Wharton of the Household Cavalry (tell me he’s not a “real man”?! This just proves that either homophobia is ripe amongst the fans or the clubs or the players. love him or hate him, Beckham is Gay friendly and I doubt he would run away and scream if he had to share a shower with an openly gay player. And as for footballers being real men, have you seen some of their “cissy” (I apologise for the word)antics when they trip over a blade of grass and cry like a three year old! (or pretend to be punched and throw themselves on the floor in a Tosca-esc dramatic turn!) A bit different to you average rugger player! My message would be get real, come out and if they try and ruin your career just becasue you are gay, start a campaign! Its only by being true to ourselves and showing this in public that we can truely be equal! (nuff said; rant over)

  18. Keith, well said! “Football is a religion..! It has its worshippers; its devotees; its adherents; its tribalism; its sectarianism; its rubrics; its holy books; its inexplicable/costing a fortune ‘home/away’ changes of ‘vestments’ its liturgical observances; its ‘sins’ for which there are ‘penalties’ in different colours…”

    Humankind acquires comfort through ritual. But some rituals are absurd. Like you, my rituals involve no imaginary nonsense: the same old healthy breakfast this morning but a change to the ritual in that I had it on the balcony (first lovely morning in ages)!

    Keith, again, your “Thailand, in my bar, 20+ years ago, I had one such priest. All the way from xyz in South America. All the way to Thailand for ‘a bit before I die, to see what the love of a young man…..etc’ Crying every night into his glass at the waste of his life.” So true. Repeated continually, I know, but always on the quiet, on the sly, so the world remains largely unaware. I know of an old Monsignor, now slapped up by his diocese in a very grand retirement flat overlooking a gorgeous sandy bay and beautiful harbour, beautiful sunset view every night, but lonely as cfuk! What’s he do? Every couple of years, another old priestly queen friend of his, also retired off, come to Europe “to see some decent opera”! Only, inbetween the operas its the saunas of Europe these old priests are really craving for. They told me all about it a few years back, then smelt that I was critical and promptly ejected me from the house! (Fear of me going to the press, or reporting them to the Archbish!)

    Darrien, #12, hmmm, good thinking! Yep! Clifford COULD have chosen, instead, to say during these interviews, “I want to help the gay footballers. Please, come on guys, come to me, give me the whole situation and let’s beat the gutter press at this insidious game of theirs. I have years of experience and endless contacts: I can help you do it. They don’t call me the wiz-kid of PR for nothing! So have no fears!”

    RobN Justin Fashanu did not end up “topping himself in Chariots”! Jesus, what a careless mouth you’ve got! Even the extraordinarily unlikely vision of a punter hanging himself inside one of Chariot’s little cubicles didn’t make you stop and think whether your mouth was working faster than your brain. (The man hung himself in an unused old Victorian railway arch about ten minutes’ walk from Chariots and after he had visited the sauna. Maybe he met some utterly negative miserable misanthropic creature there who would make anybody think of rushing like cufk from the place and committing suicide?)

  19. I was very distrubed by Justin Fashanu’s death . . . but the reason for his suicide is complicated, obviously homophobia in football did not help . . . but then neither did his Fundmantalist Christianity and his dificulties reconciling his sexuality with these beliefs . . .

    so once again we lose another extrordinarliy talented Gay person and footballer to homophobia

    When is it going to stop!!!

  20. William Jones 6 Aug 2009, 12:30pm

    The abhorrently homophobic behaviour of Justin Fashanu’s family (including by his brother – fellow footballer John Fashanu) would also have been a contributory factor to his suicide. I don’t think it is entirely fair to say he killed himself as a resul of coming out.

  21. I wrote to the FA on 12 March 2009 and got an acknowledgement, but I’m not expecting that much will result. Later I sent a message with a copy of the email to people involved in diversity at the Professional Footballers’ Association, and they didn’t even reply.

  22. Robert, ex-pat Brit 6 Aug 2009, 2:06pm

    Its a sad commentary in 2009 that kicking or hitting a ball, childish behaviour at best, makes one a “man”, especially if one is straight? I see no beauty in this childish game. Now Tennis…..that to me is beauty, elegant involving far more talent and skill. Odd that its one of the few world sports where homophobia is rampant. Maybe it IS to do with the level of education and I would hazard a guess and state that the majority of football fans are not that bright, in other words, uneducated as well as unsophisticated.

  23. Max Clifford is an arsehole. His “clients” consist of gormless idiots only famous for their stupidity or for sleeping for 13 hours each night on big brother. By saying this he’s only reinforcing “the no gay footballers” myth and put his decrepit mug on another newspaper.

  24. Eddy: “Maybe he met some utterly negative miserable misanthropic creature there who would make anybody think of rushing like cufk from the place and committing suicide?”

    Why? Were you benefiting the “gay community” [sic] with your presence in Chariots that night? I sure as hell wouldn’t be seen dead in that den of iniquity.

  25. So now we must add “puritan” to the list of adjectives that describe you, RobN?

  26. #18.

    Oh, Eddy…?

    Have we got ’em sussed or have we got ’em su…!

    They’re all at it..!
    And them as isn’t …. ‘d like to be…!

    I have noticed on here, how many dislike football; I wonder why that is…?
    It’s almost every one of the correspondents ‘upstairs’ that hasn’t time for it….right from ‘RICH’ at comment #1…

    Funny that…!

  27. #27.
    You filthy beast..!

    We were forced to play rugby at school, Irish Christian (there’s a misnomer for you, if ever there was one, Christian? My arse!!) Brothers.

    And if you are forced into it…well, need I say more.

    It was only AFTER the Hermione Gingold(s) kicked in and I realised what I had been missing that…..hahaha…!

    But by then it was too late….I had joined a monkery…


  28. Keith, I’m a-gettin’ on a train sometime in the next few months and comin’ up to Manchester to have lunch with ya! We have too much in common not to!


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