A study by Stonewall found evidence of widespread homophobic abuse at matches.
New research from the UK-based LBGT charity Stonewall, has revealed almost three quarters of British football fans have heard homophobic abuse at matches.
The worrying statistics into homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attitudes and experiences among sports fans show that 72% reported hearing homophobic abuse while watching live sports in the past five years.
Researchers found more than half of fans (51%) would be “proud” if their favourite player came out as gay while 39% said they were “neutral” and 15% would be “embarrassed” and that young people were more likely to see homophobic “banter” as harmless.
“While the majority of people see homophobic chants and abuse as a problem, and want to see sport become more welcoming of lesbian gay, bi and trans players and fans, there is a persistent minority who believe this sort of abuse is acceptable,” commented Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s chief executive.
“These vocal few may be under the illusion that anti-LGBT language is harmless but it makes lesbian, gay, bi and trans fans and players feel unsafe, unwelcome and unable to be themselves.
“We need high profile sports clubs and personalities to stand up as allies and help make sport everyone’s game by showing that homophobic abuse has no place in sport.”
Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland who commissioned the survey by market research group ICM Unlimited, told The Daily Record: “The majority of Scottish sport fans see anti-LGBT chants and abuse as a problem, and want sport to be a welcoming environment for everyone. There is however, a minority who still see this type of abusive behaviour as acceptable on our terraces, in the pub, or on social media.
“This minority of fans may think that anti-LGBT language is harmless banter, but such insults and abuse makes LGBT fans and players feel unsafe, unwelcome and unable to be themselves.
“We need all our clubs, coaches, PE teachers and sports personalities to take a stand as allies against this behaviour, and help make sport everyone’s game. We can show that anti-LGBT abuse has no place in Scotland, and no place in sport.”
So far, only a handful of professional footballers have come out, with former Aston Villa and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger the only openly gay player to appear in the Premier League. He came out after his retirement.
With homophobia still rife in ‘the beautiful game’ it is unlikely that any top flight player will come out any time soon.
Find out more at stonewall.org.uk