Gay footballers not an issue for fans, says report

THE attitude of football fans towards the presence of gay players has changed dramatically in the last 25 years, according to a Loughborough University academic.
Dr Jamie Cleland’s research has revealed that 93 per cent of fans say that a player’s on-field performance, not his sexuality, is the most important thing to them.
And that shows just one example of a cultural shift in attitudes since Justin Fashanu came out in 1990 and was ostracised by former team-mates, fans, the media and even his own brother John.
Dr Cleland has done three studies into homosexuality in football – an analysis of 3,500 fans’ views towards the presence of gay footballers with Professor Ellis Cashmore of Staffordshire University, an analysis of 2,500 posts surrounding homosexuality on fan message boards, and an analysis of the print media’s reaction to Anton Hysén coming out in March 2011.
Dr Cleland said: “The conclusion from all three studies is that the environment in football is a lot more inclusive towards sexuality than is being reported.
“It’s changed dramatically since the 1980s and 1990s, but there is always a vocal minority – and they are very vocal.”