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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 18:59 GMT
Is homophobia in football still a taboo?
By Matt Williams
BBC Radio Five Live breakfast sports news reporter

Last week, the Football Association held a summit aimed at addressing homophobia in football.

And there was a pledge to do more to stamp out all forms of abuse and discrimination from both the terraces and inside the clubs themselves.

But when asked for their opinions on the subject as part of a Five Live investigation, all 20 Premier League managers declined the opportunity.

I contacted them with these three questions:

  • Why are there no openly gay professional players?
  • Could an openly gay footballer fit comfortably into the dressing-room culture?
  • Is this something football needs to address?

    Not one manager was prepared to answer any of them.

    Some said they did not feel comfortable with the questions. Others said they did not respond to surveys.

    And yet, when I spoke to them at the start of the season about security at football grounds, they all responded.

    One club even sent me an e-mail by mistake - which was presumably meant for someone else - which included the phrase "should we touch this or palm off with a 'can't comment?'"

    If you ask the traditional footballer supporter or anyone involved they will say footballers are not gay... frankly, I find that extremely hard to believe
    Brighton chief executive
    Martin Perry

    The Premier League insisted the issue of equal opportunities is one all its clubs take very seriously.

    The organisation also re-iterated it actively opposes discrimination of any form, on or off the pitch.

    But while the clubs' reluctance to speak is not evidence or proof in itself of homophobia in football being a problem, it does perhaps show the subject remains something of a taboo in the game.

    Brighton chief executive Martin Perry was part of the panel at the FA conference held in Coventry last week.

    Perry has a special insight into the subject as Brighton players and fans are often the subject of homophobic chants because of the town's large gay community.

    And he believes there is a degree of denial in football about homophobia.

    "If you ask the traditional footballer supporter or anyone involved they will say footballers are not gay," Perry told BBC Radio Five Live.

    "Frankly I find that extremely hard to believe," he continued.

    "We ought to accept that there are gay footballers and we should not be discriminating against them in any way, shape or form."

    London: Homophobia in football
    03 Nov 05 |  Politics Show


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