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Approval statistics for openly gay footballers cast doubt over World Cup host nations

Jasmine Andersson December 14, 2017

As the 2018 World Cup approaches, the conversation around what exactly is being done to tackle homophobia in football is taking a lead.

That’s why Stonewall teamed up with football app Forza Football to poll 50,000 international fans about their views on gay footballers.

The survey, which hopes to start an international conversation about homophobia in the sport, has seen some dire statistics come to the forte over just how many fans would feel ‘comfortable’ if a gay football player came out.

In the Russian Federation, 47% of those polled said that they would accept a football player coming out, in spite of the rampant homophobic laws that are in operation in the country.

Although the score is an improvement on the 26% of Russians that voted this way in a similar survey in 2014, many fans of the sport may doubt that a nation with hostile anti-LGBT laws is a suitable location for the World Cup.

And in Quatar, who will host the competition in 2022, just 14% of fans would feel comfortable if a footballer came out as gay or bisexual.

It is also illegal to be homosexual in the country.

Iceland polled the highest approval rating in the survey, with 87% of the Nordic nation’s fans saying that they would feel comfortable with a footballer being openly gay.

“In 72 countries, same-sex relationships are criminalised,” said Stonewall’s chief executive Ruth Hunt to Sky News.

“As this poll shows, where there is anti-LGBT legislation, there will inevitably be hostile attitudes.

“We believe sport has the power to bring people together and create change. For many LGBT people in Russia, for example, the World Cup is seen as an opportunity for the daily abuses and discrimination they face to be put under the spotlight; to be questioned and criticised,” she added.

“We know many fans in the UK will be keen to protest the human rights abuses that LGBT people face in Russia and we’ll be working closely with activists based in the country to ensure that whatever action is taken is helpful and effective.

“We believe the upcoming World Cups are an opportunity to shine a light on what the situation is like for LGBT people in Russia and Qatar and start conversations that can lead to positive change.”

More: Europe, football, Forza, Middle East, Qatar, Quatar, Russia, Russia, Stonewall, world cup

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