Several gay football players in the UK should come out as a group on the same day, the head of England’s Football Association has encouraged.
FA Chief Greg Clarke told The Times newspaper that he’s spoken to gay soccer players and he thinks it would be a good idea to synchronise their coming out, if they wanted to.
“I put the message out there that if a number of top-level pros want to come out, why don’t we synchronise it? So one person doesn’t have to come out on their own,” Mr Clarke told the newspaper.
“The Premier League, the Football League and the FA could do it at the start of the season.”
Last October he discouraged UK players from coming out, saying they would face homophobic abuse that the Football Association was determined to stamp out.
He told the Times in the new interview: “I was asked if football is ready for top-level pros to come out and I said I’m not sure we were.
“I’ve been asking the gay community, ‘How can we provide more support and orchestrate it so that people get the right level of support if people want to be open about their sexuality?’
“I’ve met 15 gay sportspeople in the last four weeks to ask their views, including footballers.
“It is very difficult to get to a representative set of gay top-level footballers because some of them are happy with their sexuality and just don’t want anyone to know.”
The Out In The Fields study from 2015 found 80 percent of the study’s 9500 participants from around the world had either been a victim of or witnessed homophobia on the sporting fields.
Since then, Australia’s AFL has held its first Pride Game, to support diversity and equality in sport.
“We’re not trying to be the social leader on everything, but issues come up from time to time that we need to lead on and this is one of them,” AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said at the time.
“Hopefully, we can make a small indent in young people’s lives so they feel comfortable coming out or having the conversations they need to have, and if they feel that little bit more accepted we’ve done our role.”
In November, the UK’s Premier League football supported charity Stonewall’s anti-homophobia “Rainbow Laces” campaign by displaying rainbow flags at the start of their games and giving players rainbow laces for their boots.