Footballer shows what it means to be a straight ally by calling for homophobic fan to be banned
Footballer Tom Annear is showing what it means to be an LGBT+ ally as he calls for a ‘homophobic’ fan to be banned from matches.
Annear, 26, plays for the Devon football club Tavistock. He’s straight and due to marry his girlfriend later this year, but that didn’t stop him calling out homophobic abuse when he saw it.
The incident happened when he was playing for the club in their Toolstation Western League match at Odd Down in Somerset, which his side went on to win 4-0.
A male supporter from the opposing team had been exchanging “banter” on the sidelines of the pitch. Annear said things went too far when the man shouted at him: “I bet your boyfriend is happy at home.”
“It made me feel angry; there is never any need for anyone to be homophobic towards anyone,” he told PlymouthLive.
“And the fact he thought it was funny made it worse. My fiancé was there and has two siblings who are gay and it wasn’t nice for her to see or hear.
“The way the man was speaking was making out that it was a bad thing to be gay, when it isn’t. There was no need for it and this sort of abuse needs to be kicked out.”
I’m all for banter between players and fans. But when they start being homophobic that is too far. In today’s game it doesn’t matter whether you are straight, gay, black or white, we are all here to enjoy the game of football @TSWesternLeague @FA #KickItOut
— Thomas Annear (@tom_annear) March 7, 2020
Tom Annear reported the incident to the referee and assistant referees, as players are instructed to do if they receive any sort of abuse from spectators, opponents or officials.
He also filed a complaint to the Somerset Football Association and has implored other players, no matter where they are, to do the same if they receive any abuse.
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“It’s really important to raise any case,” Annear said. “There is no need to speak to anyone in that way. No one deserves that. We need to raise awareness of it because there must be more cases.”
The Somerset FA confirmed it was made aware of the allegations and cannot comment further on the specific claims as it is an active case, but added that it takes such allegations “very seriously”.
Homophobia remains a pervasive problem in football despite many clubs’ attempts to discourage it at matches.
Since 2013 all football clubs have been free to issue banning orders for homophobic behaviour. All banning orders are at the club’s discretion, and the duration of the order is usually between two and 10 years.
Last month West Ham took this a step further and became the first football club to threaten homophobic football fans with a lifetime ban.