Why Are There No High Profile Openly Gay Footballers
We are now well into the 21st century and still, there is not one high profile footballer who is openly gay, why? I will take a look at the key points why this is the case, and when it may change.
On the 22nd of October 1990, Justin Fashanu became the first and only English professional footballer to admit that he was gay. After his revelation, he found it massively difficult to fins a club who would take him on, solely based on his sexual orientation.
On May 3rd 1998 Fashanu was found hanged after been accused of sexual assault on a 17 year old boy. Fashuna thought he was been victimised because he was gay and his suicide note read 'I realised that I had already been presumed guilty. I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family'.
The devastation that this put on Fashau's life could be one of the reasons why there has never been another top footballer since, come out as gay.
For a footballer in this day and age to come out as gay you may think it would be simple as equality is strides ahead of what it was over 20 years ago. In everyday society people are openly gay and have no problems getting along with their lives without discriminative judgement by the majority of people.
I believe that the main problem for an openly gay footballer would come when he is actually on the pitch, and not off it. Opposition fans would most likely chant gay slurs and make derogatory comments which they believe are humerous. Although these fans may not actually mean to cause great upset by their comments, and just class it as 'football banter', it would affect the player involved massively. The player would surely feel victimised and singled out because of these fans. Its not only the opposition fans that may say these kind of things, for everyone who has been to a football match knows that when a player on your own team is performing poorly, there is always at least one in the crowd who says something beyond the line of reason
Even if fans showed enough respect to not abuse the player concerned, and the football governing body connected penalised the fans who do act that way harshly, there's the question whether the player would be offered a top contract.
As in Fashanu's case, and more of players who were not as high profile who came out gay, there always seems to be a sudden problem for the openly gay players to get a contract at a club. However, in this day and age I firmly believe that there are plenty of upstanding clubs in all of Europe's top leagues that would not discriminate upon a player because of their sexuality. There would most definitely be a clamp down on all slurs from any fans or players who were seen to be acting in a negative way towards a gay player.
Something which cannot be explained also, is why other sports have athletes who are openly gay and still playing. Recently there has been rugby stars in England and NBA stars in America who have came out, yet football for some reason still lags behind for some strange reason. Maybe because of its worldwide appeal it makes it more daunting for an athlete who may want to come out.
One thing I do know is that whoever the first high profile gay player is, the will cast huge amounts of spotlight upon themselves. Their lives will change no matter how well they are known now, it will be ten fold more after coming out. Television channels, newspapers and magazines alike will all be fighting for the exclusive on this momentous occasion. The player in question will be in my eyes, seen as a hero, someone who will lead the way for other players who are in the same boat, ad may even be a catalyst by which others follow.