By Will Maxwell
A survey by BBC Radio 5 Live has found that 82% of sports fans in England, Wales and Scotland would have no issue signing a gay footballer.
It is a topic that has dominated the headlines in recent times. It has not always been like this though. Back in 1990, footballer Justin Fashanu announced to the world in an interview with The Sun that he was gay. He was the first professional footballer to ever do this.
Since then, only a handful of others have decided to follow suit. To this day, only 11 male footballers have come out as homosexual, with former Aston Villa and West Ham midfielder Thomas Hitzlesperger being the only ex-Premier League player to come out as gay.
Compare this to the Women’s World Cup in 2015, where 17 gay players went to the tournament alone.
Bournemouth Ladies footballer Terri Harvey believes it is primarily about reputation.
She said: “Both male and female footballers rarely come out in the public eye because both have a reputation to uphold, with the men having to project this hyper-masculine vibe to every aspect of the public eye.”
“I feel women footballers would be a lot more likely to come out to their team mates than male footballers would because of this stigma or fear attached to being gay. In my opinion, men are more likely to judge another teammate for being gay than a female footballer would.”
Harvey, who has also played for male teams at youth level, said: “Female teams tend to create more of a friendly atmosphere whereas male teams, especially professional, are only really there to do a job so don’t care for their team mate as much but more of a cog in the machine.”
At a recent parliamentary hearing on homophobia in sport, British race walker Tom Bosworth and former NBA star John Amaechi told MP’s players would be able to focus more on their sport instead of “hiding”.
Bosworth, who became engaged to his partner after the 2016 Rio Olympics, also added that his own results improved after he came out publically and that a non-openly gay footballer “cannot be enjoying life as much as he could be”.