New Radio 1 documentary asks why there are no out gay footballers in the UK
A new documentary from BBC Radio 1 asks the question of why there are no openly gay footballers in the UK.
The documentary, now available on BBC iPlayer, asks why out of 2,000 professional footballers in the UK, none feel that they can come out as gay.
It sees LGBT+ team The London Titans face off against a ‘lads’ team, as new recruit Tom deals with having quit football over homophobic abuse.
The documentary also asks why homophobia is disguised as ‘banter’ in the football industry and looks at how that fuels anti-gay attitudes.
Citing a Stonewall study, one of the show’s producers told PinkNews that the documentary uses information that 72 percent of fans have heard anti-LGBT remarks at games in the past five years.
They also noted that one in five young people (18-24) said they would be embarrassed if their favourite player came out.
It also cites figures that young people are twice as likely to think anti-LGBT language is harmless if it is only meant as “banter”.
The documentary, part of the BBC’s Gay Britannia season, is available to watch on iPlayer now.
Justin Fashanu came out as gay in 1990, and many assumed that others would follow suit and that the game would mature.
Fashanu died from suicide in 1998, and 27 years after he came out, the Premier League still has zero gay players – and never has done.
Despite the self-proclaimed best league in the world making some strides towards creating a better, more LGBT-friendly culture, discrimination is still a big issue in the game.
An ex-Premier League footballer came out, in the form of former Aston Villa and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger.
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And LGBT supporters clubs are popping up all over the country, with most Premier League clubs now having one.
Former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers came out in 2013 after he had left Britain for the US, while Anton Hysen came out as gay in 2011, at the age of 20 – though that was in Sweden.
Closer to home, in women’s football, England stars Casey Stoney and Lianne Sanderson are among those who have come out and continued to play at the highest level.
We’ve even seen the first football Premier League club to partner with Stonewall, and several high-profile campaigns enthusiastically taken on by top teams, including the Rainbow Laces initiative.
And other sports like rugby and tennis have long had LGBT icons, such as Wales international Gareth Thomas and Martina Navratilova.