Homophobia in Football
Unfortunately there seems to be a distinct lack of out gay footballers! This seems odd in this day and age as more and more people are, thankfully, coming out from all walks of life. For some reason, however, this does not seem to be as true in sport and extremely rare in football. The only player to come out, that I’ve ever heard of, was Justin Fashanu, who sadly committed suicide.
So why is this the case? Is the Football Association very backward, is football culture behind the times? In my opinion at least part of the problem has to be due to the ignorance of some fans. Anyone who has ever been to a match in a stadium, whether it’s GAA in Croke Park, Soccer in any stadium or whatever, wherever, the fans always sing and jeer the opposing players, especially the good ones. In the vast majority of cases this is just fun banter and it ads to the atmosphere in the stadium. However, on those rare occasions when it gets personal you can’t help but feel for the player or manager who has to listen to it.
I remember watching Arsenal play an away game a few years back, it was in the League Cup and the fans were slagging each other off in a big way. However, every time Arsene Wenger stood up from his seat the home fans started to sing “Sit down you paedophile”, it can’t be easy hearing tens of thousands of people singing that at you but he had to take it. The line can be crossed, and is.
Last weekend Portsmouth paid a visit to White Hart Lane to play Spurs. Their captain, Sol Campbell, is an ex spurs hero. He played for them from the time he was a kid until controversially leaving them for close rivals Arsenal around 10 years later in 2001.. He graced our team until 2006 and was part of the “invincibles“, he was also voted 15th in our “Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players” poll. When he left there were questions asked as to why! He seemed to have some personal issues. During one match, I think it was against West Ham, he was subsituted at half time after a poor performance, and we were told by the commentators that he had left the ground. That was very odd, players usually stay to cheer on the team. Then he seemed to be out of the team for long periods and newspapers were reporting he had some personal problems. Some reports seemed to suggest that he was gay and was having some issues in his life around that. So when he left for Portsmouth, a team less in the news, all of the Arsenal fans cheered him and wished him the very best. He is now captain of Portsmouth and doing well. It seems, at least, that he is dealing with his personal demons well and I’m delighted to hear it.
As a result of this, all real football fans were horrified to hear that while playing a game against Spurs at the weekend he is reported as having suffered both racist and homobhobic abuse. Both the FA and the police are looking into this allegation and taking it very seriously. I know Spurs fans still hold a grudge against him for leaving them for Arsenal but this is totally unacceptable.
Something has to be done, it’s as simple as that. I know if you do something like that at Arsenal you are thrown out and I assume it’s like that around the county but if Spurs are found guilty a fine is not enough, the FA need to stand up and put their money where their mouth is!!! Sol does seem to have the backing of his manager who is quoted as saying
“This kind of thing has no place in football, no place in life. Someone has got to do something about it, somebody has got to make a stand and if Sol wants to do that we are right behind him”
Supporters organisations have to be involved too at every level. Any kind of abuse, be it anti-semetic, homobhobic, racist or whatever, needs to be stamped out of the game from the grass routes up and we all have to take responsibility for it.
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