Only by implementing my solutions and giving me 4 per cent of all sponsorship money will the FA begin to see a changeby Caspar Salmon / August 22, 2017 / Leave a comment
Let us turn to Britain’s ever edifying Premier League, with the excitement that always attends a fresh spate of homophobia in the beautiful game. This weekend, kickball fans at Leicester saw fit to chant homophobic abuse at visiting soccer-heads from Brighton, famously the only city with gay people in the UK. Twenty to thirty fans apparently started chanting “vicious homophobic abuse and making homophobic gestures”—Leicester City stewards, we are told, ejected “the offending minority” and reported them to the police, before bosses at Leicester pronounced themselves “disappointed” at the scenes.
First things first: in the Guardian’s blushing coverage of the scandal, the homophobic chant is effectively bowdlerised, as is the nature of the homophobic gestures in question. What exact words were the Leicester fans actually saying? Surely it’s germane to the story to know what precise language a gay football fan or player could expect to hear in the year 2017 at a public event with a heavy security presence.
Secondly, note the hilariously tutting reaction from leaders in the football community: disappointment is a fun official response to undisguised homophobia, when horror, disgust, despair, shame and grim exhaustion were all available. You might plausibly argue that something might actually get done about rooting hatred out of football if the sport’s gatekeepers could be induced to give something more than the merest public shit about it.
It’s a depressing thought that we might have to wait for one of Wayne Rooney’s kids to come out for something to be done about it, but there we are
There’s an Onion article whose headline goes: “Vatican Reverses Stance On Gay Marriage After Meeting Tony And Craig.” I think about the article every so often, because—to murder its central joke—it’s a truism that people who care nothing about the rights of homos probably don’t know any. The doofi in the upper echelons of football don’t consider the eradication of hatred a priority for the game because they can’t think of any gays. They haven’t met the kid horrified into silence by adults screaming their bile; they don’t personally know a homosexual player. It’s a depressing thought that we might have to wait for one of Wayne Rooney’s kids to come out for something to be done about it, but there we are.
Meanwhile, the lack of a huge public outcry about this aggression, and the usual boys-will-be-boys shtick from football’s big kahunas ensures that, once more, nothing will happen to eradicate these views and their flaunting from football.
Earlier this month, in a documentary for BBC Wales, the rugby player Gareth Thomas investigated homophobia in football, his film a hilarious replica of the one made by Justin Fashanu’s niece Amal Fashanu a whole five years ago. I might screen the two documentaries in a double bill and invite some pals round to watch them over cocktails, with the Curb Your Enthusiasm music playing in the background whenever the presenters meet football’s ruling class of know-nothing numbnuts. Drink up each time Fashanu or Thomas asks what concerted effort is being made to kill off homophobia in the sport and some suited wang fobs them off with blinking assurances that they’re doing their best! The sort of arse-backwards stratagems they’ve greenlit so far—rainbow laces and an app your Dad could have devised, to dob in offenders—scarcely bear talking about.
If the FA actually cared, they might consider implementing the following brave solutions, courtesy of yours truly. As soon as a fan utters a gay slur, their team is immediately docked 6 points. (For instance, Leicester would be bottom of the league on -3 points right now.) Teams whose fans fuck up must pay £500,000 to Stonewall. As soon as a slur is heard by anyone, the game has to be interrupted, the gates are closed and all the fans are made to watch a display of rhythmic gymnastics for the remainder of the match time. Drag queens are paid to introduce the match with a song: just a few friendly, lairy butch queens to ease the haters into homosexuality before we start really femming the game up with the next generation of flaming forwards.
More seriously, gay players must be enabled to come out—although at the moment, no-one can guarantee them a safe space in which to work. It seems self-evident to me that however many gay players there are in the league should somehow come out together, at once, presenting the rulers with an obvious need for action, and giving them greater security in numbers. It can’t be the job of one man to shoulder that burden. Sponsors must also be leaned on to sever ties with clubs that allow hatred to proliferate.
Football isn’t the only sport with a problem—why the hell isn’t there an out male tennis champion?—but its popularity and totally dunderheaded uselessness on that front make it the most glaring. Only by implementing my solutions and giving me 4 per cent of all sponsorship money will the FA begin to see a change.