Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Football and Homophobia

While athletes (particularly in team sports) are often seen being rather friendly with each other in a touchy feely sort of way, the world of sports is notoriously not welcoming to LGBT people. Only a handful of world-class athletes have come out over the years and mostly are women (female sexuality (when acknowledged at all) always seems less threatening for some reason).

Football (soccer) is probably one of the toughest sports in that respect. Thankfully the Football Association seems dedicated to tackle (so to speak) the problem. For the past few years they have been campaigning (not too loudly, though) against homophobia in the sport. This week, the north London football club, Tottenham Hotspurs, announced a ban on homophobic chants from their supporters. It seems there is hope in this respect.

The News of the World, however, and unsurprisingly, coming from a tabloid paper. does not seem ready to help, They have just published a series of anonymous kiss and tell stories about Premiership footballers having fun with each other and their mobile phones. This is obviously being published for the shock value in middle England but should be of no interest to anyone.

Chatrooms and the blogosphere are however apparently a-buzz with suppositions about who the players involved are, and it seems that one of them at least has been identified. Yesterday,, rather hypocritically claiming to be only reporting on the rumours, published two pictures: One, a very bad photoshop job, originally published by News of the World and the other, looking very much like the original picture, from the Choice FM radio website. They also name the people on the pictures. We are all voyeuristically curious to know who these guys are. There is no need to hide behind a moral fig leaf; not while going into so much details when reporting on the story.

It seems incredibly naïve, or downright nasty, if you ask me, of the News of World to use a picture from a readily accessible website, change a few details on the pic and expect that their “source” will remain anonymous for very long.

It seems only too certain that the footballer thus outed (whether he is actually involved in the so-called “orgies”, truly gay/bisexual, or not) will find his career severely curtailed by these revelations. Why he chose to speak to the News of the World in the first place (as it seems he did) is quite beyond me. If he wanted to come out (he must have known he would end up being named), he could have chosen a more straightforward way of doing it as well as a more gay friendly paper. If he wanted to stay in the closet, why talk in the first place?

The fact that the player involved is black, of course, calls to mind what happened to the only British footballer to come out. Justin Fashanu, the first million dollar player in the UK, was outed and had to contend with both racism and homophobia, from his colleagues, manager, former fans and even his brother. This ruined his career and his life. He committed suicide in 1998.

Let’s hope that things have moved on in people’s minds as fast as the have in the Statutes books in recent years and that the FA’s actions are successful enough to enable the players involved to weather that storm without to much professional and personal damages.

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  1. PinkNews seems to have vanished off the internet today - 403 Forbidden for its main page.

    I wonder if its publishing of the article you mention and this vanishing are related?

  2. I think it has more to do with their server (I recognise the 1and1 artwork) which is not very good. Something technical probably went down... the article was published yesterday and I saw it this morning. Towleroad saw it at lunch time...

    It will be back, I am sure.

  3. I've added my comment on my blog

  4. I think the NoW hack was just pissed off he wasn't invited to the orgy. You know what spurned jock-sniffers are like.
    My take here:


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