Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sport: Fantasy Football

Strange that few newspapers ran with the newswire story and mini-interview Reuters released yesterday; "A new generation of British soccer fans would be tolerant about professional footballers admitting they were homosexual, according to an online survey conducted by Staffordshire University in England.
The straight press tend to be fascinated by this subject, even though most gay men find sport really boring.
Or maybe that incongruity's the point?
Professor Ellis Cashmore told Reuters; "The big surprise was that we got what I suppose you'd call a counter-intuitive response and that was that 93 percent said they felt there was no place for homophobia in football and it should be stomped out and they felt that it brought shame on football."
The survey and the results so far can be found on the website
The main findings are:

• 93% of fans think there is no place for homophobia in football
• 7% think that football is no place for gays
• 60% want gay players to “be brave” and come out, but …
• 40% don’t want gay players to come out, mainly because it’s a private matter and straight players don’t have to declare their sexual preferences
• 90%+ think the only thing that matters in football is how the player plays... not his sexual preferences

But the survey was completed by just 2,000 people, mainly following links put up by several club's fansites, so there could be a bias to people who are the most homo-friendly.
Fagburn has emailed Cashmore some questions about the survey which will be posted when I get a reply [See comments below].
Cashmore makes some interesting points in an interview with's Jamie Cleland in the Results section of, positing that the main problem is the fear of a negative reaction in the media.
"I conducted research on black players in the early 1980s, so I remember the situation very clearly. Fans abused black players with racist chanting, monkey noises and pelted them with bananas. I actually interviewed the late Justin Fashanu before he came out. He had to put up with enough racial abuse in the 1980s: the last thing he needed was more. So when he came out, he feared the worst. But in fact the worst abuse arguably came from the media.
"... fans blame the media for keeping gay players in the closet, so to speak. Many think the response of personnel at the club would probably be supportive, though by no means all fans thought other players would accept gay teammates. Some thought other players would turn sharply against them. Some thought managers would transfer them."
The Daily Star is the only national newspaper to run anything on the survey today, with a news item; 'Gay Premier League Players Told: Come Out!' - a titular bit of titillation which presumably is meant to make readers think they're going to drop hints about which players are gay.
Perhaps more surprisingly, The Star also ran a supportive leader; 'Gay Taboo Is Just So Out'

"Football has changed.
We are a far cry from the days of gay hate on the terraces.
Everybody knows there are homosexual players in our game.
But, even today, not one of them will admit it.
They would rather lie and pretend.
A major new study of fans has revealed this next generation want footballers to come clean.
They want honesty from their sporting idols.
Yes, there are still isolated incidents of hate.
But the vast majority of modern supporters would not bat an eyelid.
There is nothing to fear.
We have openly gay people in every other walk of life nowadays.
Football must now catch up with the real world.
It is time for talented gay stars to break this last taboo.
And finally stand proud for who they really are."

Only a real spoilsport would ask how much the Daily Star has contributed to gay footballers still seeking the sanctuary of the closet.

1 comment:

  1. Here is the email reply kindly sent by Jamie Cleland from
    The total of respondents is now over 3,000.

    "Hi Richard,

    Yes, its on lots of fan message boards - probably about 20. Some refusals but most that reply are generally very supportive. Below is what most message boards are carrying. Let me know if you need any more information. If you type in 'Reuters Cashmore Cleland' into Google you'll also get the piece they wrote about our research.

    I am carrying out an anonymous survey on fans' views towards gay football players. This is in response to the Premier League dropping a campaign on this issue and Max Clifford claiming that 'football is steeped in homophobia'. We want to assess how fans feel about this. After receiving over 2000 replies to phase 1 we are now moving into phase 2 of the research. Gordon Taylor, the chief of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), has replied to the interim results of the topfan online survey of fans’ views on homophobia and gay players and we are happy to set the facts straight. Mr Taylor writes: “Never at any time have I withdrawn support for an anti homophobia campaign and in fact quite the opposite.” As an organization, the PFA states: “We welcome the opportunity to lead the field in this area, as we have done with racism ... we do not have any members of the PFA who have openly declared they are gay. If a player approached us regarding this matter there are support mechanisms in place to ensure the player has the full support of the Association.”

    Check for the full statement, latest results and make your contribution to Phase 2 of the project. Here are a couple of recent newspaper stories on the research: (The Yorkshire Post) and (The Sunday Herald).

    Kind regards