Why are there still no gay professional association football players in men’s major leagues? Revisiting the views of football fans in the United Kingdom

Ellis Cashmore, Kevin Dixon*, Jamie Cleland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In a survey of 3,500 association football fans conducted by members of the research team over a decade ago, most participants predicted that at least one gay football player would feel comfortable enough to disclose their sexuality publicly by 2014, and that many other players would follow this lead in the following years. Ten years on, gay players can be found in all major sports, but association football remains an outlier. Using an anonymous online survey, we invited football fans to advance their own views on why events have not transpired as expected. A sample of 2663 participants revealed: (a) 95 percent would welcome openly gay players, meaning by implication, football culture is a more gay-friendly environment than wider society; (b) Participants attributed the continued silence of gay players to football’s gatekeepers e.g., agents, managers, and owners; (c) Paradoxically, homophobic language is used by fans but is not considered malicious.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Early online date14 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Feb 2022

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