Tom Daley’s ‘one wish’ is for a Premier League footballer to come out as gay
Tom Daley will give the Alternative Christmas Message for Channel 4, calling for a cultural shift in sports, including addressing homophobia in football.
Daley is the first British diver to win four Olympic medals, including a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics.
In his Christmas day message, the Olympian opens up about his own experiences as a gay athlete.
Although he considers himself “incredibly lucky” that his own sport has been supportive of his identity as a gay man, the same is not true of many other sports and athletes, including within football. He uses his message to call for change, envisioning a future of greater equality.
Discussing the lack of openly gay footballers in the men’s Premier League, Daley says: “If I had one Christmas wish it would be that next year that changes.
“That one impossibly brave Premier League player steps forward and says: ‘I am gay.’ That person would inspire gay people everywhere, give hope to thousands of teenagers struggling with their sexuality and save the lives of countless young people who don’t currently feel like they have a place in this world.”
Tom Daley also criticises the decision for the 2022 World Cup to be hosted in Qatar, where imprisonment and the death penalty are still in place as punishments for homosexuality.
“In 2022 the World Cup is being held in the second most dangerous country for queer people, Qatar. Why are we allowing places that aren’t safe for all fans and all players to host our most prestigious sporting events?”
He finishes the speech with a call to action.
“We can make this country the most accepting, the most inclusive, the most progressive country on Earth,” he says. “What if in Britain anybody could be anything regardless of where they started? What if we all started from the same place. Now wouldn’t that be something to be proud of?”
In October this year, Josh Cavallo became the only active gay top flight male footballer, coming out in an emotional video on social media.
“Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer. Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that hadn’t crossed paths before,” Cavallo said.
“I’ve lived my life assuming that this was a topic never to be spoken about. In football, you only have a small window to achieve greatness, and coming out publicly may have a negative impact on a career.”
Like Daley, Cavallo has also spoken out about the decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“At the end of the day the World Cup is in Qatar and one of the greatest achievements as a professional footballer is to play for your country, and to know that this is in a country that doesn’t support gay people and puts us at risk of our own life, that does scare me and makes me re-evaluate – is my life more important than doing something really good in my career?” he said.
Tom Daley’s speech will air on Christmas Day.