The Anonymous Widower

Gay Footballers

There are no openly gay footballers in the UK, although there are others in countries such as Sweden and the United States.

It is relevant to look at the history of black footballers to get a handkle on how gay footballers will appear in the UK.

Viv Anderson was the first black footballer to play for England and he burst on the scene in the mid-seventies with Nottingham Forest.  His rise had a lot to do with Brian Clough, who I suspect didn’t give a care about anything other than your ability to play football.  And Anderson could certainly play!

At the time Anderson made his mark, Other black players also made the breakthrough.  Notably, this was the three players Cyrille Regis, Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham at West Brom. But now black players are commonplace and we’re even seeing the sons of black players entering the game and being successful.

I first saw black players in the early 1960s.  There weren’t many and they did get abuse. The most notable was Albert Johanneson, who played for Leeds.

It has been a long journey from the 1950s and 60s to where we are today.  And I don’t think that there are many, except those on the Far Right, who regret it.

It will be a long time before gay footballers are in the same high position. Judging by the time scale it took for black players to be fully successful and accepted, it will probably be somewhere between ten and twenty years.

One of the differences between black and gay players, is that although black players are obvious, gay ones are not. So how many are there out there at the moment.

There are probably more than you think!

I don’t have any evidence, but news stories over the years have constantly found quite a few gay policemen.  In fact, in one case, the Chief Constable of Sussex police made an appeal for gay officers, to help solve a homophobic murder and was totally surprised at the response he got.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if there are quite a few gay footballers. I suspect too, that many of their team-mates know the truth and keep the secrets of the dressing room. After all, all footballers know how their eccentricities or problems are reported in the tabloid press.

Some months ago, I wrote this.

I was at the Ipswich Inter Milan match in the San Siro, when I found myself sitting next to a journalist, who worked for one of the more outrageous tabloids. We chatted about various topics concerning football and Ipswich in particular and I can’t remember how it came up, but we started discussing my coeliac disease.  I then said that the statistics indicated that there must be at least one footballer, who must be a coeliac. I suggested it might make a story, as it might help those with the disease. He then said that the readers of his rag wouldn’t be interested.  But if I knew a footballer who was gay, then that would be a very valuable story.

THe full post is here. The last bit may well be the key. Despite what is generally thought, there have been a large number of intelligent and very savvy footballers. I always note Derek Dougan,  who was not considered very bright by the press to be very bright in his early years, but went on to be an author and a very good chairman of the Professional Footballers Association. So I do not think it unlikely, that one of the current crop of footballers, who is coming to the end of a good career, who just happens to be gay, will come out.  I suspect too, that he won’t sell his story to the tabloids.  After all with the coming out of Gareth Thomas, they can now see that the support from most people and the media is very strong.

This article in Wikipedia, discusses the issue of gay footballers and is well worth reading.

So I agree with a survey from the University of Staffordshire, that found that 90% of football supporters expect there to be an openly-gay footballer by 2015.

If you look at the dynamics of the long road to success of black footballers, I would actually think that 2015, might even be a bit pessimistic.

But just as this process is happening in the UK, it is also happening across the world. So I suspect that by the time of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, one of the major football nations will have an openly gay footballer in the team. As homosexuality is illegal in that enlightened country, let’s hope that it has the right effect on the Qataris’ attitudes.

But then I live in hope that FIFA will see sense and realise that they are risking players lives and health by playing in the summer in the desert.

November 23, 2011 - Posted by | Sport | , , , , ,

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