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Homosexuality In Football


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Manchester United's Anders Lindegaard says game needs 'gay hero'

No top-flight footballer has come out since Justin Fashanu 22 years ago but United goalkeeper has made a move in the right direction by writing passionately about the need for a gay hero

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Twenty-two years is quite a long time – apart from in football it seems. In 1990, Justin Fashanu came out as a homosexual, but since then no other footballer has followed in his footsteps. Not a single person. Not in top-flight football at least. The Puerto Rican featherweight Orlando Cruz recently became the first active boxer to reveal publicly he is gay, cricket's Steven Davies came out last year and rugby's Gareth Thomas did likewise in 2009.

The Swedish fourth division player Anton Hysen, the son of the former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen, came out last year, and is as close as you will get to a high-profile footballer doing the same. Even more disturbingly, there does not even seem to be a debate. No one seems to be talking about it, encouraging homosexual players to come out, discussing the matter openly. In football, homosexuality is still taboo. Which is why it was encouraging to see the Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard write passionately about the need for a "gay hero" in the world of football last week.

Lindegaard, a Danish international who has played seven games for United this season, wrote in his blog: "As a footballer I think first and foremost that a homosexual colleague is afraid of the reception he could get from the fans. My impression is that the players would not have a problem accepting a homosexual.

"Homosexuality in football is a taboo subject. The atmosphere on the pitch and in the stands is tough. The mechanisms are primitive, and it is often expressed through a classic stereotype that a real man should be brave, strong and aggressive. And it is not the image that a football fan associates with a gay person."

"The problem for me is that a lot of football fans are stuck in a time of intolerance that does not deserve to be compared with modern society's development in the last decades. While the rest of the world has been more liberal, civilised and less prejudiced, the world of football remains stuck in the past when it comes to tolerance."

Research shows that around 12% of Danish men are gay, but out of a 1,000 members of the Danish Players' Association no one has come out to say that they are homosexual. The Players' Association gives two reasons for this: firstly, that the players themselves stop playing because they can't associate themselves with the macho world of football and, secondly, that the ramifications of coming out would be too severe. The United goalkeeper is critical of the Danish Football Federation (DBU) for not doing enough to combat homophobia whereas the Dutch Football Association is behind this brilliant advert. It is, sadly, difficult to imagine the English FA doing the same. And this is despite a recent House of Commons committee report saying that "homophobia may now be a bigger problem in football than other forms of discrimination". It reported that recent research had found that 25% of fans think that football is homophobic while 10% think that football is racist. About 14% of recent match attendees had also reported hearing homophobic abuse.

Lindegaard, who admits that he thought long and hard about what to write, and discussed it with his girlfriend Missé Beqiri before publishing, added: "To turn a blind eye only indicates that one is not recognising that there is a problem. Of course there is a problem if young homosexuals, who love football, have to quit the sport because they feel excluded."

"That is in every way an unpleasant trend that does not belong in a modern and liberal society. Any discrimination towards people is and should be totally unacceptable, whether it is about skin colour, religion, sexuality etc. Homosexuals are in need of a hero. They are in need of someone who dares to stand up for their sexuality."

So 22 years after Fashanu's brave decision, the wait for another top-flight footballer to come out continues. But at least someone is talking about it. And talking is a good start.

Here's the KNVB's superb ad...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=MBuRSuFveCA

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When you look at the stick Le Saux took for being gay (he is married with children) its little surprise that nobody wants to come out. I certainly wouldn't.

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"Lindegaard, who admits that he thought long and hard about what to write, and discussed it with his girlfriend Missé Beqiri before, wrestling a crocodile, growing a beard and farting loudly and finally publishing, added: "To turn a blind eye only indicates that one is not recognising that there is a problem. Of course there is a problem if young homosexuals, who love football, have to quit the sport because they feel excluded."

:D

Just in case anyone was in any doubt Anders..... yes, we get it. You're straight.

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Totally agree The_Rev. It is obvious that there must be gay footballers, I'm sure there are some currently playing the game and it must be an open secret within the game to one level or another.

It is though not surprising at all that nobody has been willing to go public since Fashanu, in the last 12 months football fans in this country have hardly covered themselves with glory have they.

I think any player coming out would get dogs abuse for the remainder of their career and beyond.

I don't think we will see an openly gay footballer in this country for at least 10 years if ever.

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I'm not saying football fans are homophobic, but I think anyone of us would be lying if we said we didn't make fun of our friends by using homophobic undertones now and then.

The fact is that tolerance and understanding towards homosexuality hasn't quite caught up to the standards that society would like, yet. There are different levels to homophobia, and while we may all be 100% tolerant & correct towards people who are gay, we're probably all a little bit guilty of peddling the kind of slander that leaves gay people uneasy about coming out, particularly in the world of football.

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It needs the same level of sanction as racisit chanting would recieve.... heavy fines, games behind closed doors etc.

Sadly though, I think this would be the harder nut to crack. We are ALL guilty of it in all walks of life. We have the "ghey" jokes on VT, there is the YouTube video of Villa fans chanting "Upson takes it up the arse"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpMXDil0MQw

Its funny in that its targetted at upsetting Upson and making him play poorly, but deep down, we all know its not really acceptable.

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Well, judging by how liberally the majority of pub-going football fans use the word 'faggot' (a horrid word, always said with such disdain, and uniformly used by rocket polishers) when describing a player, a referree, a manager, I doubt we are any closer to having an environment in which gay players feel comfortable being themselves.

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Yup, if you're referring to the West Ham game after we'd just signed Carew and Young (We won 1-0 I think), the vast majority of the Holte were all chanting homophobic comments at Upson, including my younger self in all honesty. I even remember a certain Gareth Barry doing a homophobic gesture in Upson's face.

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Yup, if you're referring to the West Ham game after we'd just signed Carew and Young (We won 1-0 I think), the vast majority of the Holte were all chanting homophobic comments at Upson, including my younger self in all honesty. I even remember a certain Gareth Barry doing a homophobic gesture in Upson's face.

That'd be the one. Link now posted.

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No player in their right mind would come out.

Football fans in the last 12 months have shown in multiple instances that they simply aren't mature enough as a collective to accept such a move without resorting to childish abuse or 'banter'.

Any football that was brave enough to come out would likely suffer dogs abuse up and down the country every week not to mention I suspect find their career limited in ways it otherwise wouldn't have been.

Players like Upson and Le Saux aren't gay, I've met Upson's misses but look at the abuse they've taken down the years.

Nope it will be years, many years before any footballer is brave/stupid enough to put themselves in the spot light or should I say firing line.

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But it only needs one now Trent. The FA would have to act as stated above, fines intially and then playing behind closed doors.

Of course the FA do not the sole responsibility for the morality of society - and I fear that homophobia is far more prevelent and insidious than racism.

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The FA have to act..... there is your problem right there.

The FA have shown themselves to be completely incapable of dealing with the creeping issue of racism in the game these last 12 months I have zero faith in them doing any better with an issue like homophobic abuse.

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The thing is, it's different to racism, because all the homophobic abuse now is not actually aimed at gay players.

Like LE Saux and Upson, it's making fun of someone for being gay when they're obviously not (I'm not saying it's right, I'm just making the observation)

It's not like racist chanting. You can't "come out" as being black.

What I'm saying is Lindegaard is absolutely right. We won't tackle the homophobia in football until there are some gay men playing the game. And I mean openly gay. That's the only way homphobic abuse will start and subsequently be stopped. It almost needs someone to come out as gay, get abused, and then the abuse clamped down on.

Much as if we somehow hadn't had any black players ever playing football, and suddenly next week the first black players started appearing, then the racism problem in football would only just be beginning, and thus wouldn't have been tackled yet.

I see it as a strange chicken and egg scenario. Until the actual targeted homophobic abuse starts, it can't be stopped.

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When you look at the stick Le Saux took for being gay (he is married with children) its little surprise that nobody wants to come out. I certainly wouldn't.

Yep, I read that Guardian(?) piece, and I really felt awful for the guy. Based on what he said, there's also somewhat of an anti-intellectualism way of thinking in the game. He was ridiculed for reading broadsheets and books on bus rides, etc. He wasn't a lad. So he was a target. **** sad, really.

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For me I don't care what a footballer does off the pitch as long as he shows up and players well on the pitch. It's their lives so let them enjoy it. Who are we to say what is right and wrong. If Villa had a gay player I honestly would not care.

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Totally agree The_Rev. It is obvious that there must be gay footballers, I'm sure there are some currently playing the game and it must be an open secret within the game to one level or another.

It is though not surprising at all that nobody has been willing to go public since Fashanu, in the last 12 months football fans in this country have hardly covered themselves with glory have they.

I think any player coming out would get dogs abuse for the remainder of their career and beyond.

I don't think we will see an openly gay footballer in this country for at least 10 years if ever.

I am sure a few on here like me know that we have a gay footballer playing for us. I am not going to name him on a public forum before anyone asks.

There will certainly be other gay footballers playing in the Premiership and it is a sad indictment on the game that they don't feel they can come out. Racial abuse in the form of chanting is rightly now seen as a no no but abusing someone due to their sexuality is seen as fair game by many fans. They should hang their heads in shame.

Like Trent says I doubt we will see an openly gay footballer in this country any time soon.

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