Homosexuality in football: Three players speaking to FA about coming out, says MP

Three players are in contact with the Football Association about coming out as gay, according to MP John Nicolson.

He made the comments during a Department of Culture, Media and Sport hearing into homophobia in sport.

In October, FA chairman Greg Clarke told MPs that Premier League players would suffer “significant abuse” if they chose to reveal they are gay.

Speaking to Nicolson, sports minister Tracey Crouch said “there has never been a better time” to come out.

She told MPs that Clarke’s comments were “incredibly disappointing” and “strange”, adding: “If someone were to decide to come out, they should feel like they are being supported by the authorities and that any abuse would be tackled.”

In response, Nicolson said that Clarke had been invited back to present an action plan to MPs, because it was “not good enough” to say an openly gay player would suffer abuse.

“I understand three players are in talks with the FA about coming out and they haven’t done so yet,” said Scottish National Party MP Nicolson. “It’s good to know that you’re encouraging people to come out.”

Justin Fashanu became the first player in England to come out as gay in 1990, but took his own life aged 37 in 1998. No male professional player has come out while playing in England since.

Former Germany and Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger became the first player with Premier League experience to publicly reveal his homosexuality, in January 2014, after he had finished playing in England.

Former England women’s captain Casey Stoney was the first active footballer to come out in England since Fashanu, in February 2014.

In October, a BBC Radio 5 live study found that 82% of football supporterswould have no issue with their club signing a gay player.

However, 8% of fans said they would stop watching their team.

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