OutNews Global’s #ComeOut2Play campaign reached an incredible 40 million people today, thanks in part to last-minute help from Jeremy Corbyn.
The Labour leader joined Sadiq Khan by signing up along with John Bishop, Alan Carr, Alison Moyet, Katie Price, Piers Morgan and many others in 399 cities around the world.
The initiative carries a simple message: “When a gay footballer comes out, I’ll support them. It doesn’t matter who they score with off the pitch.”
The campaign is trending on Twitter across the UK and the message is growing as people retweet and add their support.
Perhaps the most telling replies came in response to Piers Morgan’s tweet about the campaign. The often controversial TV presenter surprised and delighted some of his followers, with his progressive message.
It’s a shocker! Piers is being liberal progressive-hold the front page!
— Richard James (@RichardJames48) December 18, 2017
But other responses were downright bizarre, with one user suggesting there might not be any LGBT+ footballers.
Why does everyone assume that a football player has to be gay ? Home sexuality is a small percentage of the population . Maybe there is not any gay ones so why make such a big deal out of it #comeout2play
— formula 1 (@1fFormula) December 18, 2017
The campaign has achieved huge and widespread support from political and public figures as well as Gay Times, Sport Allies and the English Football League. Its chief executive, Shaun Harvey said: ““We are proud of our work to date in this important area but we know that there is much more that can be done. The EFL is pleased to support the upcoming Come Out 2 Play initiative, in order to help raise awareness, whilst also promoting the values of the game and ensuring football provides everyone with a safe and welcoming environment.”
A Stonewall and Forza Football poll this week showed 80% of English football fans would support a gay or bisexual player but there’s no similar poll for current professional players and so far no footballer in the game today at any level has agreed to sign the #ComeOut2Play campaign.
OutNews Global spoke exclusively to Everton and Wales legend, Neville Southall who said: “I think current players haven’t signed the campaign yet because clubs are so tight on what people say and nobody says what they really mean anymore.” He says. “It’s all so controlled. Everybody is so PC now that they don’t want to say something controversial.
“If a player signs the campaign the tabloids might start investigating their life and they don’t want that. Footballers are shit-scared of the media.”
There’s never been such a focus on LGBT+ inclusion in sport, particularly in English football. The new chairman of the PFA, Ben Purkiss, recently added his support to any players wanting to come out, saying: “Attitudes in society are changing. As time goes by, new players come into the game and attitudes develop, I think and hope people will feel comfortable coming out.