‘Archaic’ coaches to blame for no openly gay footballers
High-profile English footballer Joey Barton has suggested that “archaic” team managers and coaches are to blame for the dearth of openly gay footballers, in a documentary hosted by the niece of the late Justin Fashanu which went to air in Britain this week.
The hard tackling, volatile Queens Park Rangers midfielder (pictured in action) who is just as well known for his harsh working class background and scuffles off the pitch told the makers of Britain’s Gay Footballers that the issue of homosexuality was close to his heart as one of his uncles is gay.
“He (Barton’s uncle) thought because of the society that we were brought up in, which was quite working class, that it would be frowned upon or that we would disown him,” Barton said.
“Individuals within the game will discriminate against people. These archaic figures think if they had a gay footballer, they would have all kinds of shenanigans going on in the dressing room. That’s not the case. As I say it’s more fool them and their lack of social awareness and intelligence.”
The documentary which was screened by BBC3 on January 30 has host, Amal Fashanu, interviewing a number of leading figures in the sport, including the likes of 'super' agent Max Clifford and her own father, John Fashanu, to find out why no British professional footballer has come out since her uncle did so in 1990.
Justin Fashanu, who played for Nottingham Forrest and Norwich City, committed suicide in 1998 following years of public hostility over his sexuality as well as a falling out with younger brother John, who was also a professional footballer.
In the documentary, Britain's most high-profile, openly gay sportsman, the former Welsh rugby captain, Gareth Thomas, said that it was up to Britain’s Football Association (FA) to help create an atmosphere supportive of a player coming out, as well as acting against instances of homophobia.
“I think if the FA were to make a statement saying ... we will stamp on anything, then it would create a safer environment that's comfortable for the footballers,” Thomas said.
While the openly gay former NBA basketball player, John Amaechi, told the documentary that football continued to be run by “a group of straight, white, old men”.
“Football is clearly not that comfortable with women in board rooms, clearly not that comfortable with black people in management positions. And so, when it comes to gay people, that just blows their mind,” Amaechi said.
The documentary was well received by television viewers, PinkNews reports, drawing 712,000 viewers, up more than 50 per cent on the channel’s average audience according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board.