By Isabel Ringrose
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Football’s Coming Out — why are there no openly gay top footballers?

This documentary asks what’s stopping footballers coming out—and how things can change
A rainbow pride corner flag

What can clubs do to support footballers to come out?

There are no openly gay or bisexual male footballers in England at the highest levels of the sport. Football’s Coming Out looks at why this is and charts the path a footballer coming out might take.

How would a player tell teammates and their club? How would the media, social media and football fans react? And would careers or sponsorships be affected?Since Justin Fashanu came out 30 years ago, no other men’s player has come out while actively playing. Fashanu took his own life after facing homophobic and racist abuse.

Those in the documentary admit things are better, but football is still not in the place it should be.

Some clubs are better than others at supporting LGBT+ people. Matt Morton, player-manager at Telford Town in the ninth tier of English football, is the highest ranking openly gay footballer in England.

“There are 100 percent gay men in elite football in this country,” he says. “They just don’t feel comfortable yet to be themselves.”

Abuse in the media and on social media is one reason why some might not want to come out. As a comparison, the documentary looks at how black England players faced abuse on social media after the Euros tournament last summer.

But in the documentary, fans speak about not tolerating abuse of any player from individuals or crowds. They suggest implementing better punishments, such as life-long bans from all games.

They agree the first professional player to come out could pave the way for vital changes. How can things change otherwise? But coming out would be a huge, difficult first step.

Football’s Coming Out is available now on All 4

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