Sports
Soccer Fans Say More Should Be Done To Combat Homophobia In The Sport: Pre-World Cup Poll
May 27, 2014
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LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers, left, says he received "nothing but support and love" after coming out last year. (Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Soccer fans worldwide want their respective countries to do more to tackle anti-gay abuse in the sport, according to a new poll. Stonewall, Europe’s largest lesbian, gay and bisexual equality charity, teamed up with Swedish app developer Football Addicts for the study, which posed the following questions to over 30,000 fans from 29 countries:

  1. Would you feel comfortable if a player in your national team came out as gay?
  2. Do you think that football is an anti-gay sport?
  3. Do you think those in charge of football in your country should do more to combat anti-gay abuse in football?

The results showed that 58 per cent of fans want more to be done to fight homophobia, compared with only 27 per cent thinking enough is being done.

Opinions about homosexuality in the sport varied greatly in the different countries surveyed.

Irish football fans came out on top for question 1, with 83 per cent answering "Yes" to whether they'd feel comfortable if a player on their national team came out —  followed closely by Sweden (79 per cent), formerly home to Anton Hysén, who came out in 2011 when he played on the team Utsiktens BK. Brazil, the host country of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup, came in with a 67 per cent level of comfort, followed by India (65 per cent), Israel (65 per cent), Mexico (56 per cent) and the USA (52 per cent).

Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates decidedly would not feel comfortable, at 21, 12 and seven per cent, respectively.

Benjamin Webb, speaking on behalf of Football Addicts, told Strombo.com that not enough Canadians took part to qualify in the survey, which was administered to users who'd downloaded the company's Forza Football app.

In response to the second question, "Do you think that football is an anti-gay sport?," many of those polled did consider the sport to be more homophobic than not, including fans from the UK, Italy, France and Greece.

Fans from all of the biggest footballing nations in the world — including Brazil (68 per cent), the UK (68 per cent), Italy (60 per cent), and Spain (56 per cent) — responded that those in charge of football are not currently doing enough to fight homophobia.

“Over the last 10 years we have seen great strides in attitudes towards lesbian, gay and bisexual people," James Taylor, head of policy at Stonewall, said in a release. "Sadly, our national game has not moved as far or as quickly as other parts of society. It’s clear that more needs to be done to tackle homophobia not just in football, but sport more generally.”

Robbie Rogers, who plays for LA Galaxy and came out last year, told the Guardian: “Most of what I feared hasn’t happened. It’s been quite the opposite, with nothing but support and love.”

The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off June 12 on CBC TV.

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