ANYONE else been following the progress of the Twitter account @FootballerGay, which sprung up recently – and quickly accumulated more than 50,000 followers?
The account was thought to be run by a Championship footballer who intended to come out as gay before it emerged it was possibly a hoax.
If you’re not a football fan, you might not realise what a big deal this would have been if it had been real.
Liam Davis, currently the only openly gay footballer still playing professionally in the UK, came out ten years ago.
Before that, the previous professional footballer to come out as gay while playing on these shores was Justin Fashanu in 1990. He then took his own life eight years later.
Given that one in 50 of the population identifies as gay, this doesn’t exactly seem representative.
And that’s probably why @FootballerGay’s account racked up so much support so quickly.
The account’s profile said the player was a “proud gay man”. He posted numerous tweets saying his club had been informed of his decision to come out and had been supportive. He tweeted saying that on July 24 he would reveal his identity.
But instead, the account was deleted a couple of days ago. And shortly before that, the bio on the account was changed to read: “I thought I was strong enough. I’m not.”
Although his tweets had messages of support from people such as Gary Lineker, lots of other people doubted the authenticity of the account.
That includes my husband, an ex professional footballer.
His view is that these days no one, from other players to the club, would care if someone were gay.
He should know. He played with Justin Fashanu and says no one in the dressing room had a problem with Justin being gay and he wasn’t treated any differently to anyone else.
Still, outside the dressing room, he was singled out.
Just one example is the time the owner of the opposing team called him a faggot from the sidelines.
Fashanu (who was 6ft 4in and a black belt in karate) sprinted towards this guy, who got so scared he locked himself in the Press box.
‘WHO SOMEONE SLEEPS WITH IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS’
Fashanu kicked the door down to find the guy pleading, crying and denying he said anything. Justin could look after himself. But that kind of thing took its toll.
Although we’ve moved on since 1990, hearing stories such as that does make you realise why some footballers might think twice about coming out.
I don’t care if the Twitter account was real or not. After all, who someone sleeps with is none of my business. But if someone wants to come out to the world, it is a terrible state of affairs if he thinks he needs to be strong and “brave” to do so.
And the reality is that attitudes towards a lot of things have changed over the past couple of decades.
I remember when I turned up at the Director’s Box of an away game when I first took over at Birmingham City Football Club in 1993.
When I asked where the boardroom was I was told that director’s wives go in the ladies room. When I mentioned that I was the managing director the old boy on the desk put his glasses on, looked at me and said: “Oh yes, you’re that woman . . . stay here and I will find out what to do with you.”
‘ONLY TIME WILL TELL’
Because, at that point, women where banned from entering the boardrooms.
That was the first door I ever kicked down. So I know in a very small way how being the first and being different to everyone else in football feels.
Nowadays I am proud to say there are so many talented women running clubs. And I like to think we have moved on enough that no one would bat an eyelid at a gay footballer.
Still, the football world can be a fairly intolerant place for anyone who is anything close to a minority.
Maybe it’s the case that until we create a tolerant, accepting environment and culture then footballers won’t feel safe enough to come out.
But which will comes first: that . . . or, someone like this being brave enough to admit they are gay and face the possible backlash.
Only time will tell.
And what I’d really like to see is a football culture in which someone’s sexual orientation really is neither here nor there.
Engaged in selfish behaviour
DID anyone else wince looking at the photo of the man intercepting his girlfriend’s moment of glory when she was being awarded her degree – to drop down on one knee and propose?
I guess Edgaras Averbuchas saw it as a romantic gesture but to the onlooker it was just a bit, well, selfish.
For a start it looked like he couldn’t bear to let Agne Banuskeviciute have her moment in the sun so muscled in. He attempted to eclipse her huge achievement and make it all about him.
Plus, he put her in a very difficult position. I mean, what if Agne wanted to say no?
Why didn’t he just let her graduate and then ask her in the evening to marry him?
But also, Agne wasn’t the only person graduating that day – I wonder how everyone else felt about having their big day overshadowed by this big “romantic” gesture?
Sorry to say that this does not bode well for the relationship.
And my advice to this young woman would be to run while you still have the chance and find someone content to allow you to be successful in your own right.
I LOVED reading about Mackenzie O’Neill, the 11-year-old from Canterbury, Kent, who found himself having a bit of a kickabout with Lionel Messi on a Caribbean beach – the stuff that dreams are made of for some kids.
This is the kind of memory that never goes away, but it’s not only children that live for a moment like this. My husband, himself a professional footballer, played on the beach with Diego Maradona about five years ago (when he was way past his best) and he still can’t stop talking about it.
Get down Lidl, Kev
KEVIN CASH, once hailed as one of Britain’s most successful property tycoons with a fortune of £500million, was declared bankrupt last July with debts of £40million.
So it is no surprise that he and fourth wife Carla are now going to have to make a few changes to their lives.
But when you hear that they used to spend £50,000-a-month on groceries and “housekeeping”, it becomes clear how hard it might be for them to get used to bankruptcy and shopping, presumably, at Lidl.
What on earth are they buying? Gold bars to eat?
Now they’ll be shopping in the bargain bin.
As Arsene Wenger used to say about Arsenal’s performances: “One day caviar, and the next cabbage.”
Tear-esa is man enough!
WHATEVER you think about Theresa May, no one could deny that she is driven by a sense of duty to the country.
So it’s no surprise that she has shed a tear once or twice over the past couple of very difficult months of dashed hopes and disappointments.
But what has struck me when she’s been caught crying on camera is how quick people seem to be to triumph over what they see as a sign of weakness.
Meanwhile, if a man in a position of responsibility is seen to show emotion or shed a tear, he is seen as admirable, noble and passionate.
Net gain for Chris
I JUST can’t get my head around Chris from Love Island, being so intent on protecting his magnificent mane that he sleeps in a hairnet.
I mean, it’s one thing wearing one in bed, it’s another thing altogether wearing it in bed with a new girlfriend.
But to do so on national TV?
Well, all I can say is, I hope he wasn’t in his socks as well.
most read in opinion
- WATCHED Boris Johnson’s first PMQ’s on Thursday and, boy, it felt good.
Optimism, energy, pride and a real determination to make Great Britain – well GREAT.
It’s been a long time since we have heard anything, and I mean anything, positive come out of the Commons. If he can deliver only half of what he promised, the country is in for a return of the good times.
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