Homophobia is a big issue in men's games worldwide. While there's an expectation for gay footballers to be welcomed by their team and fans, concerns often pop up around the reactions of opposing supporters. In women ‘s soccer, there are more openly gay players compared to male professional footballers and most male players choose to come out to the media after retiring from their careers.
The issue of homophobia in football is still a considerable challenge, with journalists like Matt Williams and Simon Barnes considering it an ongoing taboo. Homosexuality is often considered a continuing taboo in the sport even though there is more support. Some retired male players suggest there may be as many closeted gay male players as openly LGBT+ female players.
Players like John Amaechi and Clarke Carlisle have called out the sport's culture and supported more education about homophobia. Recent statistics in 2022 showed that homophobia constitutes a substantial portion of abuse directed at footballers, both male and female. In a positive development in 2023, Quinn made history as the first openly transgender player to participate in a World Cup.
Homophobia in sports has been extensively documented. Research conducted by Scotland's Equality Network in 2011 revealed that among over 1,700 respondents, 79% recognized the presence of homophobia in sports, and 62% had either witnessed or experienced homophobia or transphobia experience in sporting games.
In 2012, the National Union of Students surveyed 845 LGBT students and found that 46.8% perceived sports culture as unwelcoming. Similarly, the 2013 Youth Chances Survey reported that a significant portion of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans individuals aged 16-25 felt unable to openly express their sexuality or gender identity within sports clubs.
Research by Stonewall in 2016 highlighted these concerns:
Even though there is evidence of changing attitudes, the existence of homophobic and transphobic language in football remains a big issue. This negatively affects the experiences of LGBT individuals participating in the sport.
Young LGBT individuals may feel vulnerable and isolated when exposed to negative comments as they explore and understand their own identities.
Some football fans believe that homophobia, racism, and sexism in professional football have improved over time. However, when fans perceive these issues as serious problems in today's game, a smaller group believes they have improved, and some even think they have worsened.
Fans who see racial and religious discrimination as significant problems tend to believe that these issues have worsened in football, especially racism and Islamophobia.
While most fans are aware of the football association's campaigns against discrimination in football, efforts to deal with racism receive significantly more attention and recognition than other issues.
The majority has noticed extensive anti-racism campaigns, such as the Premier League's “No Room for Racism” initiative, while campaigns tackling homophobia and Islamophobia receive less recognition.
Here are the list of some LGBT players:
Homophobia is still a concern in football, but there is a mixed perception among fans about its progress over the past decade. Some believe it has improved while others feel it has worsened. Efforts to deal with homophobia receive less attention compared to anti-racism campaigns in football which should highlight the need for increased awareness and action to address this issue in the sport.