Sets of laces have been sent to each individual player at every Premier League and Football League club, plus at the 42 teams in the Scottish Professional Football League by gay rights charity Stonewall who have joined forces with Paddy Power.
The Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign is all about changing attitudes in football towards gay players and the rainbow laces, and advertising, are part of the campaign.
One advert reads “Over 5000 footballers and none of them are gay -what are the odds on that?”
Have a think about that. There must be a few footballers who are gay surely? But as we all know, football is a man’s game, right? So there’s no way someone would be gay! Right?
Wrong. I’m damned sure there are many of them, and we all know the real reason that no player has officially “come out”. Their life would, no doubt, be made a misery by some of the “enlightened” fans we have in this country, and no doubt he’d get stick on the pitch too. I can understand it. Why ostracise yourself?
Can you imagine alienating yourself on such a grand scale? It’s wrong, but we know the facts don’t change. Homophobia has always been huge in football.
I’ve been in dressing rooms, and to be honest they’re not for shrinking violets. But why should someone’s sexuality get in the way of them doing their job? Does it change their ability to play the game? Could there be a Messi or Ronaldo in the gay community?
I never looked on my colleagues differently because of their sexuality and even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t get away with it in the workplace – I’d be fired at the first hint of homophobia and rightly so.
I’ve heard it said that dressing rooms are intimate places and some men would feel uncomfortable with sharing with a gay man. What? Why? It’s a wee bit presumptive for a start! I think some of these people secretly think of themselves as God’s gift! Gay men have standards too … or do you know many heterosexual men who fancy every women that walks the street? (Being willing to sleep with them is different!)
Football is of course a totally different arena. It’s the last bastion of masculinity (well maybe some elite golf clubs would argue otherwise!)
But let’s say your favourite player was gay. How would you feel? Be honest.
I’m sure it would take a bit of getting used to because, of course, no footballer is gay, and so they would be unique, surely?
But would you really stop supporting them because of what they do in the privacy of their own home? Frankly, it’s none of your business, nor mine.
Paddy Power would probably not take a bet on the odds, given that there are 134 clubs across England, Scotland and Wales in the PremierLeague, Championship, League One, League Two, Scottish Premiership, Scottish Championship, Scottish League One, and Scottish League Two.
This means there are around 5000 players registered across these Leagues.
The odds on there being no gay person in a random sample of 5,000 In long form that number is: 22,947,321,563,647,480,000,
Surely that’s worth a fiver? You would get the same odds for predicting a 150 result accumulator.
We have Show Racism The Red Card, which we all fully support, so why don’t the clubs back this campaign in the same manner?
Call me cynical – but if a club’s top star was to come out as being gay, would the club be pleased – would it enhance or damage their commercial value?
The UK itself, has in the main, been fairly liberal in its attitudes to homosexuality since it was legalised in 1967. Many people are backing gay marriage and would hopefully back a gay footballer.
There are many openly gay entertainers who are idolised and remain as popular as they ever were with a sprinkling of criticism or humour about their sexuality.
Take George Michael. He’s done pretty well since coming out – nobody seemed to openly criticise him. Elton John – one the greatest ever entertainers. Gay and was chairman of a football club.
But football has always had an immunity to openly gay men. There have been rumours in the press about individuals or urban myths about players being gay within the support.
In 2008, ex-Celtic defender Paul Elliot estimated that at least a dozen Premiership footballers were gay but were afraid to “come out” due to a perception that they would receive a negative reaction. Would you? Can you imagine the abuse. If a gay
player was having a poor game? You can bet your bottom dollar that their own support would subject them to homophobic abuse. On the other hand, I’m damned sure you’d be jumping around hugging your mates if they scored the winner in the Champions League Final.
Previous surveys on the subject brought up the recurring theme that the governing bodies aren’t doing enough. They know that, but they have offered their support, and the PFA has done the same. More importantly, there needs to be acceptance and understanding from the players themselves.
In all my time of supporting or being involved in football I can name one gay player, which would increase the odds massively given that’s almost 40 years.
How many SPFL players will wear the rainbow laces this weekend and back this campaign?
More importantly what will the club’s boards and fans do?
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