Gay footballers film boosts BBC3 audience by 50%

Stephen Gray January 31, 2012
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Britain’s Gay Footballers, the BBC3 documentary shown last night examining the lack of openly gay players in the British game, drew 2.8% of the viewing audience.

712,000 people tuned in to watch the film at 9pm last night, up more than 50% on the channel’s average over the last year of 470,000 viewers according to Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board.

Amal Fashanu, whose uncle, Justin Fashanu, was the only-ever openly gay player in the UK, questioned figures from the game on why no British professional footballer has come out since.

Justin Fashanu’s niece helped launched the Justin Campaign on 19 February 2010, which would have been the former Norwich City player’s 49th birthday.

A spokesperson for the Campaign said today: “Football still has a very long way to go in properly dealing with the problems of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia within the sport. However, the more the issue is discussed and is brought out of the closet, the easier it will be to address the problems.”

“The Justin Campaign is proud to be working with The FA and a number of Premier League and Football League clubs on the forthcoming Football v Homophobia initiative, which takes places from February 18th – 26th. “

“The fact that we are now working in partnership with major organisations and clubs in the game shows how far we have come. We hope that the momentum increases and we can finally reach a time when sexuality is no longer a barrier to being a footballer or a fan.”

The film included emotional interviews with Justin’s brother and Amal’s father, John Fashanu.

John Fashanu’s critical comments in the press following his brother’s coming out and ensuing media interest in his life came as revelations for the 22-year-old.

In another part of the film, Fashanu spoke with Queen’s Park Rangers captain Joey Barton, who revealed his uncle is gay and said he felt sorry for those players who were not comfortable discussing homosexuality.

Barton said there were “archaic figures” in the footballing world who would discriminate against gay players, but that he expected an out gay player in Britain in the next decade.

Openly gay former NBA basketball player, John Amaechi, told Fashanu: “Football is run by a group of straight, white, old men. Football is clearly not that comfortable with women in board rooms, clearly not that comfortable with black people in management positions. And so, when it comes to gay people, that just blows their mind.”

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