In 2017, the surveillance organisation “Kik It Out” recorded 282 incidents related to racism and homophobia (1 of every 5) in British football. Of those incidents, 131 occurred in the 4 main divisions, resulting in an increase of 75%.
According to a 2010 survey in the United Kingdom by the University of Staffordshire revealed that 3,500 fans, players, and referees think that professional football players fear coming out of the closet more because of media, clubs, and agent pressure thanbeucase of the opinions of their fans and teammates.
One of the things that keeps football players from freely expressing their sexuality and share it with their colleagues is fear. Fear of being rejected not only from their familiar surroundings, but also, in this case, by their team. This is because it is not the same to be an athlete who participates in an individual manner, as it is to work with a team and have to come to face to face with each other in the locker room.
In April 2013, the researcher and sports psychologist, Anthony Mette, published his “Analysis of homophobia in professional football” on behalf of “Paris Foot Gay”.
Athletes that confess having had “hostile thoughts towards homosexuals” are 41% among professional football players, 50% in sports training centers, and 8% in fans across all sports categories.
If a teammate were to come out of the closet, 63% of professional players and 73% of football players still in training said that they would be surprised to see how the tabo has been broken. Furthermore, 55% of football players in training centers said they would be scared to shower in the presence of a gay football player, 22% said they would prefer to change teams, and 23% would fear lower performance of the team.
Nevertheless, more than half of football players would be in favour of having a gay teammate and would X them, above all, in terms of their athletic performance and not their homosexuality.
In athlete training centers there is a strong homophobic environment due to their isolation and the context of their competition and aggressiveness.
But football players do not have exclusive rights to homophobia. Homophobic attitudes are also notable amongst referees.
Football has a lot more media attention than other sports, therefore everything that happens in the football world resonates strongly. Furthermore, in order to make more money, some media sources dedicate themselves to exposing the private lives of football players, whether what they report is true or false, rumor or slander, insult or praise. For them, the most important thing is to sell, many times without though to their professional ethics.
Professional football in Spain undoubtedly moves a large amount of money, making itself a profitable business for many clubs. Big football teams unfavourably perceive the controversy and headlines that football players generate with their personal lives. They undoubtedly fear that having an openly gay football player will negatively affect the fanbase or sponsors. In some clubs, especially the well reputed ones, educating the fans in the fight against intolerance and homophobia is considered very difficult. If they were to apply strict, anti discriminatory laws, it would greatly affect their income revenues.
The inaction of sports authorities, clubs, and federations in creating an atmosphere of acceptance and respect towards sexual diversity is evident. At the demand of athletes, sports institutions and clubs have increased campaigns against racism in order to reinstate the values of tolerance and clean play. However, the advancement of causes against discrimination, exclusion, and violence of the LGBTI population has dragged.
Also evident is the double standard applied to the allowance of banners, shots, and insults that use sexual orientation as a weapon to demean and insult players and referees. The lack of effective and systematic penalties, as well as effort or warnings to end these behaviors in Spanish stadiums, makes them common in the stadium sunday after sunday.