The late Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay footballer.

It’s been reported that a number of players in England’s top football leagues are gay but fear that supporters will turn against them if they come out.

According to the Observer, gay rights campaigners have been told by Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, that eight players have disclosed their sexuality to him.

Seven of them, however, told him that they feared that their coming out would lead to a backlash from the media and their fans.

The news follows last week’s announcement by top American professional basketball player Jason Collins that he is gay.

There is currently no openly gay professional football player in the UK. In 1990, British footballer Justin Fashanu came out but committed suicide eight years later.

“The danger is not so much coming out, but what happens next,” said Chris Basiurski, chair of the Gay Football Supporters’ Network.

“One of the problems Justin Fashanu found was that he was the first black millionaire player, and a lot of things were expected of him on the pitch at Nottingham Forest and it didn’t really work out. When that happened, the dressing room and the management used his sexuality as a thing to bash him with,” he told the Observer.

“We have anecdotal evidence that players are out within their clubs and don’t have a problem,” Basiurski said. 

“The danger is what happens when a player comes out and gets loads of support and attention, but then start playing badly. The worry is that fans will start getting on their backs and they may lose the confidence of their manager and it could be connected to their sexuality.”

In February, American footballer Robbie Rogers, who played for the US national team and most recently for Leeds, came out as gay but timed his announcement with his retirement from the sport.

There is currently one openly gay professional football player in the world. Sweden’s Anton Hys�n, who plays for a minor side, came out in March 2011 to much publicity.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend