Football needs to evolve with cultural change

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hitzlperger

Whilst news of another public figure openly announcing he’s gay is a stride towards tackling homophobia in football, stigma continues to inject fear into those wanting to ‘come-out’ whilst still playing the game. “We still have a long way to go” Hitzlsperger told BBC Radio 4, “because we fear a reaction and we don’t know what will happen”.

Attitudes must change

I find it remarkable that in this day and age, this remains topical news. We’ve come a long way since 1990, when the first British footballer, Justin Fashanu, faced abuse for his sexuality, but it would be ridiculous to claim the issue is cured. Only yesterday PSG’s Alex, narrow-mindedly commented on homosexuality, saying ‘God would’ve created not Adam and Eve but Adam and Yves’. Alex has the power and presence to impact and improve the publics’ opinion, but instead he’s adding fuel to the fire for those individuals that Hitzlsperger was afraid of throughout his own career. No wonder the likes of Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers came out after retiring for fear of a backlash during their career.

I’d like to think Alex’s comments were isolated to himself, but based on my experiences, do I think there’d be an issue in the changing room if a player came out? I’d like to think not. I get that’s not an objective answer, it’s only from my experience. But I’m confident that my teammates would judge a player purely on his field ability, his skill and his character. A player’s sexuality doesn’t affect the way we work as a team, so it shouldn’t and needn’t come into question.

How would fans react?

I am however, sure that a club would reconsider signing a player on learning his sexuality. I say this because of the potential discrimination that player may face. Of course there’s no certainty a player would experience homophobia, purely, as Hitzlsperger pointed out, “we haven’t seen a gay footballer in the Premier League or the Bundesliga…we would have to wait and see”. The sad truth is, until a current player comes out, we can’t comprehend the size of the issue. In the UK, I’d perhaps envisage some aggressive fans on occasion, but more likely would be the method of Twitter abuse. Cowards tend to hide behind their phones and laptops, believe me, I’ve been on the receiving end enough!

We need to join forces

I remain optimistic, and don’t think we’re a million miles from creating a positive football culture, accepting of all diversity. The stigma attached to the game is present, but not unstoppable. Individuals like Hitzlsperger, Rogers and Tom Daley have faced the issue head on and provide light for those having to live in fear, which in today’s society is f*cked up.

It’s all well and good speaking about an idyllic culture, but how can we get it? The way I see it is simple; you’re not only responsible for what you say but what you don’t say. People with social impact need to speak up. I felt encouraged as I saw awareness raised during the Rainbow Laces campaign , but that was just one event. What we need is to make that awareness grow until homosexuality is accepted, by football and each person involved in it.

This subject will always remain a huge talking point, so let’s hear your thoughts.

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24 comments
Jpitch
Jpitch

Sports personalities should take to social media and what not to raise awareness then. Look at how much awareness has been raised for ALS, incredible! As you said we don't know how some people will react to doing so, but no doubt enough people will support it. Needs to be tackled.

celso de miranda
celso de miranda

Shame on you Alex, shame on you ... As a Brazilian, I was embarrassed by the nonsense and religious mumbo jumbo of PSG defender. For me, homophobia should be classified as racism and other forms of prejudice and, therefore, Alex, should be punished by the his homophobic statements.

Veebo
Veebo

So calling Thiago Silva a Tran Sexual and Torres a poof is not bullying? 

SEP_Edz11ttt
SEP_Edz11ttt

Ok sexuality shouldnt be an issue in a sporting career but its still not right and unacceptable in my opinion to accept that you are gay, men are for women and women are for men. Done. I know its not a choice but if you are gay then I dont find it acceptable. In brasil people wanted to create rules where if u called someone gay you would be arrested like what the hell gay people dont deserve any rules to be created for them, they should have less rights not more.

Jules stansall
Jules stansall

Totally agree Joey. Really sad that the terraces won't allow someone to be who they are.

We have to find a way to educate and move forward, maybe high profile people like you standing up and saying "I have no problem with this" will help to remove this stigmatism.

I don't care what you fancy, I care that your happy. Xx

laineylane
laineylane

LFC become first Premier League club to March in Pride festival in Liverpool last year and the year before (The cities 1st Pride)

Sadly the only club.

davidripley
davidripley

Totally agree Joey. It's 2014 and those judging someone by their sexuality need to take a look in the mirror. It's ridiculous that in today's day and age the sexuality of someone determines what people think of their talent or ability - whether they play football or sometimes work in an office.

Whatever a persons job - whether football or not colleagues have to have respect for each other. If football leads from the front and sets the example fans can/will follow. Similar to racism where we've come a long way. Granted there is more to do with racism but when you hear occasional racism in the stands, it is just that occasional.

At the end of the day whether the first gay player to "come out" (personally I hate that term) whilst playing, plays for the team you support or your closest rival, any banter should be about the rivalry not their sexuality. For when it comes to it do these people really sit with their girlfriend or wife heckling Gok Wan when their forced to watch it at their partners say so.

mikeyTAC
mikeyTAC

Until a current player comes out, this will remain a taboo subject. However I too believe that with the way football fans are the player would be targeted from the terraces and twitter. It will take one very brave person to start the ball rolling but when it does it will be for the benefit of many many more...

LeeHobson
LeeHobson

The Alex comment was immature and hackneyed.

We need more top players to stand up and say that being a Gay footballer is no big deal and show that you're not a lone voice.

Johnno884
Johnno884

Has Hitzlsperger missed his opportunity to be that player who made the stand? I know he has already shown immense bravery in coming out. Not an issue I can even begin to relate to. However, if we're ever to get to the utopia of openly homosexual professional footballers, it'll take a braver man yet.

In order to avoid it becoming an issue, then players, managers, Premier League and the FA need to lead from the front and ensure it occurs without any unnecessary consequence.

Unfortunately football fans are not the most forgiving of groups and therein lies the problem. They need to be supportive. I suspect if Messi came out tomorrow it would be a non-event as the fans see his football not his private life. If a player in the Blue Square Premier came out it might be a different situation.

SEP_Edz11ttt
SEP_Edz11ttt

This is why homosexuals is going to get hatred. I guess your probably gay and should be embarrassed of that aswel. Homosexuals want to much respect. No one should be punished for giving their opinions. No one should be punished for stating that they dont like the gays. Everyone can like and hate what they want. Voce so pode ser um idiota, voce deve ser da inglaterra porque so chegar aqui que voce ja muda. Acha uma religiao rapaz. Esse lugar eh um inferno.

sambaxter11
sambaxter11

Normally the homophobic are hiding something themselves... Get in the 21st century you bigoted fool, you are in the minority for thinking this.

SEP_Edz11ttt
SEP_Edz11ttt

Imagine a child having 2 fathers, personally I don't care if someones gay but don't come to me and try argue that being gay is right because it isn't. Have u ever seen a dog gay? I haven't.. you know why? because they don't get influenced by anything. We do, we follow to much what other people do, were the problem. We get influenced too easily. That's why there are homosexuals out there. Unfortunately. Another dumb story that people say: 'its not a choice to be gay' saying they were born gay already. They might not have chosen it but they allowed it to happen. The devil messes with the weak because if he went for a strong person, a strong person wouldn't allow it to happen. If you all don't pay more attention to the ''old book'' (as Joey calls is) you lot might end up burning in hell together with these homosexuals. 

SEP_Edz11ttt
SEP_Edz11ttt

About the animals, I never knew that but I didnt search it I just said that ive never seen it. And no thats not what I ment. A relationship between two guys (if it is a real relationship) some would want a child, they would have to adopt one they couldnt create one. If you dont have the power to create a child with a man its because you werent designed for that. Which means you are doing something that you werent ment to. Im not trying to convince anyone im just stating my point I couldnt care less if you dont agree, I follow what is said on the bible. Thatss what I believe.

NickDuffy
NickDuffy

@SEP_Edz11ttt "a man and another man couldnt create another person.. so why is it right to be with eachother?"

I take it you also think it's wrong for anyone infertile to have sex.  And anyone past child-bearing age.  And anyone to have any kind of sex which isn't done in the most child-producing way possible?

SEP_Edz11ttt
SEP_Edz11ttt

Just because you dont agree with me doesnt mean that im ignorant or intolerant. Through my eyes I dont accept when people think being gay is right because it isnt, a man and another man couldnt create another person.. so why is it right to be with eachother? It doesnt make sense. I dont find it acceptable when people accept that they are gay because they know deep inside that its wrong therefore they should fight against it! Most people choose the easy way out and jus accept that they are gay and I have low respect for them. I know a man which was gay but he didnt accept it and he put up a fight against the fact that he was gay, he knew it was wrong so after some years he got through it, he said it wasnt easy but he did it. This should be an example to everyone instead of people jus simply accepting they are gay. Also I dont know what ive said that is bad enough to send me to hell.

alexgrogan69
alexgrogan69

@SEP_Edz11ttt You are one of the most ignorant people on the planet. To say that it is "unacceptable" to be gay is beyond stupid. What is unacceptable however is people like yourself who do nothing but hate people who are different than you. If your god, heaven and hell do exist, intolerant, ignorant people like yourself definitely would not be allowed in. 

SEP_Edz11ttt
SEP_Edz11ttt

So im not intelligent because I have an opinion? Listen, no point of arguing. One of us are wrong and we will only see who when we die!

sambaxter11
sambaxter11

I don't respect your opinion because it is insulting and wrong. I really don't need to waste my time talking to you as clearly you lack intelligence.

SEP_Edz11ttt
SEP_Edz11ttt

@sambaxter11 yes, your opinion. i cant prove you wrong and you cant prove me wrong its just opinions... but eventually you will see that these 'religious bigots' are right. oh and in your eyes i'm only intolerant because i have a different opinion then everyone here, but ok i respect your opinion. 

sambaxter11
sambaxter11

I have more issues with religious bigots like you who are destroying this world than any homosexual. Haha we are all going to the same place mate and that's a hole in the ground. If heaven existed in your fantasy dream world, then I highly doubt someone as intolerant as you would ever end up there.

SEP_Edz11ttt
SEP_Edz11ttt

@danchol1 oh wow, hanging out is normal, but a dog going after male dogs all the time doesn't happen

danchol1
danchol1

@SEP_Edz11ttt  What a ridiculous comment. My dog is often seen 'hanging out' with fellow male mutts.