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People are horrified by the Daily Star’s story on gay footballers

Josh Jackman October 24, 2017
(Twitter/andrew_bogg and ryantatkin and skynews)

(Twitter/andrew_bogg and ryantatkin and skynews)

A national newspaper has sparked outrage with a front page telling readers about the “SECRET OF TWO GAY PREM FOOTIE ACES”.

Today’s Daily Star’s headline is positioned next to a picture of a pregnant Coleen Rooney, who is the wife of former England captain Wayne Rooney.

This led the paper to add: “(Not Rooney obviously!)”

(Twitter/skynews)
(Twitter/skynews)

The last player to come out while playing was Justin Fashanu, who came out in 1990 but died by suicide in 1998 after years of homophobic abuse.

The paper’s blaring headline, which the paper claims as “EXCLUSIVE,” is based on a story which was widely reported yesterday.

Former Premier League footballer Carl Hoefkens revealed that two of his teammates in England were out as gay to the rest of the squad.

Club Brugge's player Carl Hoefkens speaks during a press conference on November 21, 2012 in Bruges on the eve of their Europa League match against Bordeaux. AFP PHOTO / BELGA BRUNO FAHY (Photo credit should read BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

The player, who posed for a gay magazine five years ago with the caption: “gay is okay”, said one of the men brought his boyfriend to training.

And Hoefkens, who played for Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion, also said he had a gay teammate while in Belgium.

Speaking to Belgian outlet De Zondag, Hoefkens said the players were open about their sexuality when they were playing with him, but wanted to keep their personal lives private.

Manchester United's Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo (L) vies with West Bromwich Albion's Belgium defender Carl Hoefkens during the English Premier league football match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, central England, on January 27, 2009. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo. (Photo credit should read ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)
Hoefkens and Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty)

“I won’t name names as I respect their requests,” the ex-defender said.

Despite this reasonable explanation, the Daily Star printed that the players’ sexualities were “SECRET”, rather than simply a personal matter.

You know, as if every footballer has to reveal their sexuality.

As if there comes a point in every straight player’s life when they have to announce to their fans, their teammates and their manager that yes, it’s true: I’m heterosexual.

On Twitter, Stonewall wrote: Discussing homophobia in sport and how to tackle it? Great.

“Speculating about the sexuality of players on the front page? Really not great.”

The LGBT charity continued: “Making an issue out of someone possibly being gay is everyday homophobia in itself.

“This sort of speculation sends a negative message to sports fans and professionals alike, LGBT or otherwise.

“We must work together to make sport everyone’s game & ensure all LGBT people feel included & welcomed.

“Outing players does not achieve that,” the charity concluded.

People were also quick to point out the flaws with the front page, with one responding: “There’s a difference between private and secret.”

Another wrote: “It’s not a secret – it’s private!” with an emoji that really drives the point home.

One person said simply: “Who cares? Private > Secret”.

(Twitter/sirbobbyliveson)
(Twitter/sirbobbyliveson)

People including Ryan Atkin – the first English football referee to come out as gay – said headlines like this were why people in the game haven’t come out publicly.

Atkin, who became the first out gay football referee to officiate an English professional match in August, wrote: “You wonder why people won’t come out!

“Disgrace #Dailystar and the player selling out!! Not inclusive! ” he added.

(Twitter/ryantatkin)
(Twitter/ryantatkin)

Another person said that they “thought we had moved on as a nation. It’s their business and no one else’s”.

(Twitter/andrew_bogg)
(Twitter/andrew_bogg)

Some were upset that the paper decided to place a picture of a pregnant Coleen Rooney next to the headline.

Neither she nor her husband are involved in the story, but both are prominent in the world of football.

(Twitter/sav4efc)
(Twitter/sav4efc)
(Twitter/julianbarker111)
(Twitter/julianbarker111)
(Twitter/timvanderedit)
(Twitter/timvanderedit)

Some, however, were just happy that there were people out there who had the same reaction as them.

“The responses here are amazing,” one wrote.

(Twitter/leedsunitedmaz)
(Twitter/leedsunitedmaz)

One said the replies restored their “faith in humanity”.

(Twitter/missmiddis)
(Twitter/missmiddis)

It should also be noted that Hoefkens spent four years playing in England, only one of which was in the Premier League.

Because of this, it’s quite possible that at least one of the players was not a top-flight player.

Hoefkens did say he played alongside a footballer “who was a genuinely big name,” but as far as anyone knows, he could have been referring to a player in Belgium.

More: Carl Hoefkens, Daily Star, football, Gay, Justin Fashanu, Media, premier league, sport, Stoke, Stoke City, west brom, west bromwich albion

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