Thierry Henry has given his backing to players who wish to come out as gay, stressing the football fraternity should accept homosexuality in a manner that echos the ‘different world’ in which we live.
In 2013 Robbie Rogers, formerly of Leeds United, became the first professional athlete playing in any of the five major North American sports leagues to openly reveal his sexuality. On his retirement German midfielder, Thomas Hitzelsperger, also confirmed he was gay. Their example remains a rarity.
Indeed, as things stand no male player currently contracted to a British club has followed suit – with the culture of the game, and the ‘terraces’, the chief impediment. There’s also the case of Justin Fashanu, the most high profile footballer to come out in the UK, who suffered years of homophobic abuse before he took his own life in 1998, at the age of 37.
Speaking as an ambassador for the Sky Academy’s ‘confidence month‘ Henry touched on why the decisions individuals make in their private life would in no way affect his relationship with them in the dressing room or on the pitch, and why it’s time for attitudes to change.
“We’re living in a different time, a different world, and people should accept that,” he told Sky News.
“It’s not a problem, we’re ultimately there to do a job. Whatever you believe in, whatever you do,” he said.
“If I was in a dressing room, that guy would still have been my teammate and I would still give him the ball, and I would still see him the same way, still go out with him.
“We’re all human beings at the end of the day, so it doesn’t really bother me.”
The men’s game in the UK lags behind the women’s where Lianne Sanderson and Casey Stoney, both openly gay, have represented England. Henry’s comments come in the wake of a Sunday Mirror article which claimed that two Premier League stars who reportedly believe ‘the time is right to come out’.
Obviously it remains to be seen if such bravery – and let’s be under no illusions that’s what it would be – is imminent, but let’s hope that football as a whole is ready to embrace those who do come out, and begins to leave its deeply entrenched homophobia in the past where it belongs.
Good points made by a good man.
I’m not sure I remember people’s ethnicity or religious background While on the pitch…… let alone get influenced by it….. that sexual divide should bother no one in the sport! as long as respect is cordial, no problem
I feel their are already all walks of life playing the game at the top. Gay, black, white, straight, alledged rapists, convicted criminals and people that sleep with teammates wives(terry), and brothers wives(giggs). But really who cares. I feel the quicker the guy players come out the quicker it will become the norm that some people that play top football are gay. As for the terraces, well clubs, fa and police need to up their game, just as we have with stamping rascist out of the English game. If the prem starts it, the rest will follow. Personal opinion, whether… Read more »
That’s one of the problems with it though. People think “being gay” is something they should either agree or disagree with. It’s not a lifestyle choice. Hiding the fact that you are gay is a lifestyle choice in British football, because for all the good work that is being done, the terraces are still full of people who will use the fact that the player who comes out publicly is a player for another team and therefore fair game for any abuse they can get away with. What police force is going to arrest an entire crowd for singing homophobic/sexist/racist/abusive… Read more »
I think at the top level the key issue is corporate sponsorship – would an openly gay player command the same level of deal as a similarly talented straight player?
I believe sponsors would be of the view that the gay player would have a more limited ‘audience’ and as such would be a less attractive investment.
Ethically dubious but surely this economic factor is at least part of why more players don’t come out whilst still playing?
I doubt that’s a major consideration – considering most of them are on unbelievable wages anyway
True – but there’s always an agent or two behind the scenes looking to milk the cash cow that little bit more!
Our very own Giroud modelled for a gay magazine just before he came to arsenal. I don’t really see why or how much of an issue it would be in the long run.. Sure it gets points for novelty in the beginning but stuff gets old fast these days
Which magazine would that be?
Asking for a friend, of course.
Never mind, I found it http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HR8-fK148DA/T7ysEcNdY8I/AAAAAAAABqA/yQiLlpF2vlA/s640/Olivier+Giroud+Tetu.jpg
I think it is an interesting point. But for me the reason why no players have come out as gay, is because they’re terrified of the response from the terraces. I mean we’re disappointingly still in a situation where black players are getting monkey chants hurled their way, and bananas thrown at them. So I do really fear for the players that are thinking about coming out during their playing careers. I am personally 100% for equality in the sport, and I know that so many fans are 100% behind it too. But unfortunately there still is a really dark… Read more »
The dark side isn’t part of the sport. It’s part of ordinary people in the street, some of whom go to football matches, and it happens across the world. It’s human nature to distrust anybody who is not like us (skin colour/religion/tribe/sexual orientation/disabled/nationality/opposition fans). Many of us try to suppress that whenever possible, especially in countries where laws are made to enforce it as our cultures begin to develop a social conscience. It’s the safety of the crowd that allows those who want to openly abuse players and opposition fans to do so, and because it’s the opposition that is… Read more »
Endorsement money is not insignificant:
Messi earns half his club wages in endorsements. Another factor is brand image and legacy: David Beckham was the master at this. Thus, if such a footballer came out as gay, marketing of the player in all the conservative societies where homosexuality is still a stigma will be cut off. That represents an inefficient solution to the multinational paying for the endorsement. They would require another subject to market their products in those communities.
I’m not saying endorsement money isn’t a big thing – only that I don’t imagine that’s what’s holding a gay footballer from coming out.
This is quite interesting: https://uk.sports.yahoo.com/news/jermaine-jenas-exclusive–players-aren-t-preventing-gay-player–coming-out—the-fans-are-150157464.html
100% agree. Its definitely the abuse from the fans that is a real concern. Also, as someone else highlighted; when the first gay players comes out, they will be the most sought after interviewee.. they’ll constantly be hounded for everything, essentially over night they’ll become a national spokesperson for the gay community, and that’s quite a lot of unnecessary pressure.
They’d make even more money from endorsements if they embraced it.
I think that player would need to transcend just being a footballer a la someone like Beckham for that to be the case.
At least for the individual player the economic benefits would be huge, because he would be the only one. Possibly also for the club the club, depending on its size. Though you might have a point with global clubs such as Arsenal. The LGBT community has come a long way in some parts of Europe, but obviously homophobia is still a part of football culture, and it’s a part of the general culture in other country where we have alot of our “new” fans in, such as east Asia. On the third hand, people forget everything a footballer does as… Read more »
It’s long overdue, and while we do live in much more understanding society, the impact will be felt less in the dressing room and on the pitch, but more so in the stands. Personally I believe that some players have already come-out to their teammates, and behind the scenes there are no issues. But, in the stands where racial abuse is still rampant, granted not as bad as it once was but it is still there. That is where it will be an issue. The FA needs to lay out a zero tolerance policy against such abuse towards any players,… Read more »
I agree with your comments but the reality is that the FA is as outdated in its thinking as the majority of its members. Let’s face it, the women’s equality agenda was on the global radar long before gay rights and look how dubious their treatment of that has been. The Eva scenario is a perfect case in point. If women, in today’s age, can feel ostracised in football how would players feel about openly expressing their sexual orientation. If I were I certainly wouldn’t be trumpeting it in the current environment.
Indeed, the treatment of the former Chelsea doctor is a clear indicator of how backwards attitudes still are in football, and how brave a player would be in coming out.
At the risk of sounding fatuous, while I loudly applaud Thierry for this statement it would be great if someone less metrosexual could come out and say the same thing.
That cunt Terry owes humanity a favour…
Think I agree with you Greg. This needs to be championed across the ‘board’ so to speak. I don’t agree, as someone said above, the first player to come out would have to be a Beckham type, i.e. a player that transcends football in order for things to change. Essentially the entrenched racism, sexism and xenophobia football endures is nowhere near perfect, but I hope gay players know there are more supportive people in stands, press and dressing rooms than idiots or narrow-minded people.
I’d imagine corporate sponsorship would be happy to be assosiated with a gay person. In Ireland we had a high profile sportsman ( a hurler, not a professional sport but very high profile here) come out as gay and there was no discernible negative reaction. He remained a well respected guy on and off the pitch. Probably just needs someone to be the first and I think society and football fans will by and large be accepting. The world has moved on.
I think there’s a disproportionate amount of apprehension concerning the issue of coming out as gay.. I’m not dismissing homophobia in England completely but I’m pretty sure nobody would give a rats ass what your sexuality is if you are a good hardworking player.. People keep using Justin Fashanu as an example of how things can go wrong with coming out in football.. But if you read his story I think his suicide had to do with a lot more than just football.
If Giroud comes out I think male Arsenal fans would be extremely excited!
Nah, like moi pretty sure Giroud likes Vaginas.
What about Lee Camp??
Giroud better not come out as gay. I can’t change my sex twice!
I have never seen Gibbs girlfriend
And this is not a post for idle speculation or unfounded gossip/hints
I have never seen your girlfriend
Don’t you remember his midnight romp with some model before the 5-1 loss at Anfield a few seasons back?
Wait, my bad. I read that as giroud… It’s late, ok. Apologies.
How about this one?
Try a Google search, though that doesn’t necessarily prove it either way.
It wasn’t so long ago that people were chanting as to where Posh likes to take it, I can only imagine that chant re-hashed by the John Terrys of the stands. As much as I agree with Mr Henrys sentiments its not his fellow players he needs to convince, its the mass (can only just about afford) paying public.
It’s just a shame that it’s an issue and I think it is probably that which stops players coming out. They know then that it will be an issue. They will have to do mountains of interviews and read mountains of copy about how they are doing this and that for Gay rights. When really they probably just wanna play football and have a private life…and not be the torch bearer for the Gay world.
It’s a society where coming out of one closet and very quickly going into another. Tell me if you understand this.
Whether accepted or not players will feel different regardless of how well they are treated/accepted/intergrated.
And because humans are prefominantly homogenous few want to be treated or seen DIFFERENT that’s why the equilibrium that exists is not pushed by them.
Because your orientation is a really important part of being a football player, obviously… While I fully understand that there’s a need to tackle open abuse of homosexuals, it’s also important to respect that we don’t all share the same opinions on the morality of their lifestyle, and we’re fully entitled to dislike it, while maintaining a respectful approach. There are days when I visit the BBC sports site and wonder if I’m even on a sports site at all – the way they push the gay agenda is not at all balanced, in fact it’s openly biased and really… Read more »
What has morality got to do with anything? You wouldn’t question the ‘morality’ of somebody based on their colour of their skin, or their hair, so why their sexuality?
I was hoping we’d stick with Arsenal and football? It appears you can’t respect my views, so let’s rather settle on the matters that brought us together in the first place, right?
Closet homophones detected.
Don’t be so bowled. I mean bold.
Maybe, if you didn’t want to talk about it, you should have just not commented on this thread.
You’re the one that said being gay is immoral……
“morality of their lifestyle”? You utter twat!! It’s not a fucking lifestyle choice.
I hate all this bs about football “WAGS” showing pictures of players wives in bikinis and stuff… feels like it’s a step too far, too personal. I’d imagine i’d feel the same about stories saying “so and so is gay”.
In other news…..
Regarding the newspaper story I do hope those involved legitimately want to come out and they’re not in any way being forced. I think something like that happened to Steven Gately. Fair play to anyone who does come out but I would totally understand players who decide to wait untill after their playing career is finished. It’s cool those ladies in the women’s game felt safe enough to come out and hopefully when the time comes the men’s game will be as accepting and accommodating.
It would be bravery for sure for those players to come out but I have noticed more and more rainbow colored flags and banners at different football grounds on TV. Even the Spuds had a rainbow banner at WHL so perhaps attitudes in the terraces are changing with the times as well? Or is that just wishful thinking?
That’s groups of people who are fairly confident they have safety in numbers. I don’t think many people would take a rainbow banner to a football game on their own. I’m afraid it’s just wishful thinking. Many (most?) men feel that “gay” and anything that pertains to what they think of as “gay” is some sort of a threat to their own manliness, so they will make a great show to their mates of attacking it so as to reinforce their non-gayness and keep such things at arms length. They may supress it a bit when alone, but together? As… Read more »
I do not give a damn about the sexuality of any sport person.
I just have drug cheater, Terry, and the Mou
As a gay football fan, someone in the EPL (or one of the other top leagues) would be better than Christmas. Here in the States, there is definitely a level of “bro culture” that inhabits many football circles, which personally leaves me feeling like I’m an outsider looking in sometimes. People underestimate the power of representation, but I guarantee whoever decides to come out would find so much support…especially from those of us who are craving to see someone like us play the sport we love to watch.
Should they really have to ‘come out’ though. It seems like football just wants a person so come out to act as a poster boy so everyone can go “I’m OK with it’, the poor guy would essentially be dragged around the media, interview after interview, story after story and would essentially lose his private life.
If i was a gay footballer i wouldn’t advertise it or “come out” in the media (would probably tell team mates/friends), not because I was scared of the reaction I just think its none of anyone else’s business.
Common Jonh Terry…come out, come out
All straight people should come out. All married people who find other people’s wives or husbands should come out. Sound stupid? Exactly, because it’s sod all to do with football. Abuse can’t be tolerate no matter who you are or whether you agree with someones choice or natural instinct.