Homophobia will still be rife in some men’s football locker rooms, says Graeme Souness on Sky Sports’ Super Sunday, calling for more education. Fellow student Alex Scott says open dialogue is vital as football shows support for Rainbow Laces
Football expert & columnist
Graeme Souness says men’s football must continue to work towards a more inclusive culture so that gay or bi players know they will be supported if they want to get out.
Souness, speaking in a super Sunday discussion with studio guest Alex Scott on the occasion of the annual Rainbow Laces campaign activation, believes a number of LGBT inclusion issues still exist in the game, such as homophobic language and Behave when getting dressed and fear that they or their clubs may lose lucrative sponsorship offers.
A year ago on Super Sunday, the former Liverpool and Scotland star spoke about his experience of attending the annual Brighton Pride Parade in August 2019 and how attending the celebrations changed my attitude towards such LGBT events « Community.
When responding to a film that showed Hector Bellerin on a video call with two fans of Arsenal’s LGBT and allied group Gay Gooners, in which fans described the challenges they faced with match days, she said, « How It would be sad if you are really passionate about something but you can’t go there because you are afraid of abuse and will not be accepted?
« I teach my kids – ‘Every morning you wake up trying to learn something’. I’m a man in my 60s, I want to learn.
« I went to Brighton and it was fascinating. The cross-section of the people there, the atmosphere. . . I felt richer for the experience.
« I had a really interesting day. I learned a lot, including about myself. The locker rooms were homophobic when I was playing and I’m sure it’s still an integral part in some locker rooms today.
Scott, who won 140 caps in England and spent most of her career at Arsenal, said she has always found the women’s game to be welcome to LGBT people.
In his conversation with the Gay Gooners members, Bellerin mentions the high level of control that Premier League footballers are under and the attention they receive on social media, and Scott says the contrast between games is noticeable and clear by men and women.
« The amount of abuse players are already going through – to add that (come out), it’s another level, » said Scott.
« In women’s football, the fan base is different. The fans who show up are not necessarily there to judge, but to love the sport as a spectacle.
« That in turn rubs off on the players. They feel in a safe environment and can be who they are and be open to their sexuality. «
Scott recognizes the impact of the rainbow laces and the dialogue the campaign is generating, and is encouraged to increase awareness of LGBT inclusion for the benefit of all involved in the game.
« People shouldn’t go to a soccer game thinking they are in an unsafe room or they should argue with people because they are their true authentic selves, » she added.
« People who talk openly about it and support everyone – these conversations need to be held. «
As for the prospect of a gay or bi-male gamer coming out publicly, Scott says that the overwhelmingly altruistic impact of such a decision could ultimately outweigh any concerns about negativity for that person.
« It takes that one brave person – yes, they will bear the brunt of it, but they will open the door to other people. «
Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride, which supports Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign. If you would like to inspire others in sports by sharing your own story as an LGBT or ally, please contact us here.
© 2020 Sky UK
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