“If a player declared his homosexuality, he would be supported by all of football”

“If a player declared his homosexuality, he would be supported by all of football”

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His announcement was met with many messages of support and congratulations. of the Prime Minister of the United KingdomBoris Johnson. Thirty-two years after striker Justin Fashanu, Jake Daniels, midfielder for Blackpool club 2Y English division, became, on Monday 16 May, the second active British professional footballer to publicly evoke his homosexuality. “Being gay, bi or queer is still a taboo in men’s football”lamented the 17-year-old, in an interview with the Sky Sport channel as a result of his coming out of the closet.

Jake Daniels’ speech comes as controversy mounts in France surrounding Paris-Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye. His presence in the stands instead of on the pitch during the match against Montpellier, Saturday May 14, ” for personal reasons “was perceived by some as a desire not to join the campaign against homophobia organized by the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP) and the associations Foot Ensemble, PanamBoyz & Girlz United and SOS Homofobia during the 37Y and 38Y Days of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. A deplored absence by the former striker and coach olivier rouyerwho was the first French football actor to openly assume his homosexuality, in 2008, long after the end of his career.

Jake Daniels explains that he could have waited until his retirement from the sport to come out. A few months before him, another player still in practice, the Australian Joshua Cavallo, had made his homosexuality public. Could this be a game changer?

It’s extraordinary what just happened: Jake Daniels is just a 17-year-old boy. But you can tell he’s in a good mood, responsible, smart… What he just did is fabulous in terms of the impact he’s going to have on his generation.

I also liked his speech, what he explained. It is very strong. Seeing the hyper-positive reactions on social media at the level of your club, at the level of English football, I hope it can serve as an example.

But, there is one fundamental thing to remember: coming out of the closet is not an obligation. It is simply a matter of well-being.

In France, various French football figures have not hesitated to speak out against homophobia. There is a clear will to move the lines. However, no player has taken the step…

When we see that Idrissa Gueye refuses to wear the rainbow jersey, or in any case declares that he cannot play, we tell ourselves once again that we are falling behind. I want to say very simply: we are idiots. And that’s a shame.

I sincerely think, and I have been saying it for a long time, that if there were a player who declared his homosexuality, he would be supported by all the footballers, managers, sponsors.

Of course, you always have the crazy ones on social networks. But all of football would give him its full support, despite some attitudes like Gueye’s this weekend. We are in 2022, mentalities are changing and, fortunately, the comments are less negative.

When the LFP campaign against homophobia was launched in 2019, several players refused to wear the rainbow armband. In the case of Idrissa Gueye, several voices were raised to demand a sanction. What do you think ?

His absence shocked and the reactions against him are very negative. He could have said: “I wear the shirt, but I don’t share all the ideas”, for example. What I personally understand.

There is a will from the LFP to fight against homophobia and we will ensure that there are no more stupid songs of the style in football stadiums “You are fagots, sons of bitches”, etc. A movement is underway and we must be united.

I have been practicing a team sport since I was 5 years old, today I am 66. What is “co-sport”? It is tolerance, acceptance, kindness, generosity, solidarity. I don’t want to play Care Bears, but on the pitch we have to help each other and understand each other, whether you’re white, black, Arab, gay or straight.

Beyond this day of fighting homophobia, are we doing enough to eradicate this scourge in football?

You have to be even more aggressive and above all be present all the time. What the LFP does at the training center level, with Yoann Lemaire [le président de l’association Foot Ensemble, qui lutte contre les discriminations dans le sport intervient auprès des jeunes joueurs] in particular, it is a great job. So he’s making progress, he’s making progress.

So of course there are places where you are very welcome. In others, it is a bit more complicated. You just have to understand, reflect, move on. We must continue to fight this fight.

I think the LFP is doing a fantastic job. I regret that the French Football Federation is only beginning to move, slightly, on this issue. It is time for the league and the federation to come together.

We have the impression that football is the bad student of homophobia, but the situation is not necessarily more encouraging in other sports…

The situation is not encouraging in society in general. There are more homophobic attacks on the street than we imagine. There is a 22% increase in homophobic acts. So be careful, it’s not just sport. We will only get out of this with education and discussion.

The bulk of the work must focus on the new generations: it is the children who will make the difference in the future. And then, in football, when there are events like the speech by the young Englishman Jake Daniels, you have to support him, stand behind him and salute his example. There will always be fools, that, we are not going to change anything.

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