International break is here again.
When players go from club to country and fans are left to support their nation or simply count down the days till it’s over.
Regardless of your viewpoint on that, one thing speculated about in the press recently has been the sexual orientation of several England players. My first thought was who cares? And the second was if this was the truth (and I’d be inclined to believe there has to be at least one who doesn’t have an eye for the ladies) then great. For the simple reason that it is well overdue for a player to be brave enough to ‘come out’ to the world.
Of course, it shouldn’t be this way. We (as human beings), should be entitled to our privacy and freedom in our personal lives without the pressure of the media. A gay doctor is still a doctor. And a gay footballer is still a footballer.
Will it change my opinion on the said footballer/s? No way. Will it alter how they play? Of course not. Will I look at them any differently? Absolutely not. It’s not my business. On the contrary, will it give a youngster reassurance that you don’t have to be scared to accept yourself as who you truly are? Yes. It’s a strong possibility. Whether they like it or not, sportsmen (and women of course), are role models to these impressionable young fans.
What I’m saying is, in 2015, it shouldn’t matter what team somebody plays for (pardon the pun). But it does because of the difference it can make. It astounds me that out of all the men I watch all the time, be it at old Trafford, on the television or my phone on the go, that none of them are gay. Either that or they don’t want to admit it.
Who can blame them really? I can imagine the fear of the reaction. That of the fans in the stadiums. The opposition supporters wanting to rile you, and using your sexuality, race etc to do so. The newspapers delving into private lives. And the daunting world of social media reporting twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
At the same time, it’s absolutely nothing to shy away from. When, sadly, people can still experience homophobia and children can get bullied for something they probably don’t even understand yet, there is still more to be done.
If somebody you idolise can be their authentic self in the most public fashion, you can too. If they can be cool, the same applies. So, I think, it’s about time we take a stand as a group of true football fans.
If, and when a star comes out, we should support them wholeheartedly, but at the same time treat them the same as before. You never know who’s looking up to you to emulate your reaction. And ultimately, if you have an issue with love, then it’s your problem.
Ask yourself this. If a player scored a goal which won your team the champions league or your country the world cup would you care what their sexuality is? Of course you wouldn’t!
It’s about time the beautiful game caught up and shown that true equality can only be achieved when we judge each other on how we are as people rather than who we love.