MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Gay footballers? So what, move on
11:20am Tuesday 19th February 2013 in Sport
A REMARKABLE occurrence last week as a professional footballer came out as a homosexual and the world didn’t end.
I make no mistake for banging this drum (again) as loudly as possible because I’m hoping this can be a genuine watershed moment for a sport still struggling along in a Draconian manner when it comes to embracing equality across the board.
Racism? Sure, racism is wrong, that won’t be tolerated, football has finally decided. We are all outraged at the recent footage of Millwall fans using ‘that’ word.
And women can like football too. That too is accepted now. Hell, England has a better female team than male when it comes to the national side.
But gays? In football? It would be too awkward, that seems to be the argument.
Too awkward for fans who wouldn’t know what was acceptable to chant (here’s a handy hint, nothing about sexual orientation).
It would be awkward too for the teammates, it’s the last bastion of sanctity for boys being boys you see, the dressing room. How could the poor mites cope?
Except last week a pro footballer came out and hardly anyone batted an eyelid.
Robbie Rogers, a USA international and one-time Leeds and Stevenage midfielder, wrote a blog announcing his retirement and revealing he was gay. The reaction was telling. People didn’t really care, because frankly, why would we? It’s his business.
Ex-teammates of Rogers took to Twitter in support of him, because, frankly, they didn’t really care either.
It’s 2013 and high time footballers could and should be able to live openly as a homosexual if they so choose.
With a zero tolerance attitude to terrace abuse – and I believe fans would self-police on this issue to a degree - and the certainty that his fellow players wouldn’t have any issue (see other sports), it’s time to end the last taboo.
Football isn’t always the easiest sport to like and admire on a personal level. Beginning to address this would help.
So thank you Robbie Rogers, now let’s hope more players feel able to follow suit.