Recently, Adelaide united footballer Josh Carvallo became one of the first professional footballers to come out as gay, and this led me to ask myself this question; why is there such stigma around this topic in so many sports? It is a question I feel should not need to be asked in this day and age, but unfortunately I still see a huge amount of homophobia in sports, even in very progressive countries.
I feel it is also interesting to note that while it is rarer in men’s football for players to disclose their sexuality publicly, it is not the case in women’s football where I personally see less stigma around it for them. Of course, disclosing your sexuality publicly is never easy for anyone but it does almost seem like a taboo subject in Men’s football.
It was, however, great to see the overwhelmingly positive response Josh Carvallo received on social media after his announcement. It does seem that on the surface many in the football community are very accepting and it shows that there is a different view of this topic in modern football.
But, the statistics done by OutSport, one of the first international research projects done on homophobia and transphobia in sport make for concerning reading. According to the study 78% of the people surveyed believe that gay people are not safe as a spectator at a sporting event. It also noted that 73% of people believe that gay people are not safe in youth team sports.
These figures show that while many of the most famous footballers seem to be very accepting of gay people the mood at the grassroots level may show that there still is a major problem. The survey notes that the number one solution to help gay teammates is to be an ally. It is an issue that clearly should have been an issue that was resolved a long time ago, but it is a problem that needs to be solved.