Thursday, 16 February 2012

Britains Gay Footballers.

The advert for this TV program at first made me think it to be no more than the usual excuse for slightly controversial material to be shown. Like their Channel 4 brothers, though to a lesser extent, we all know how the BBC are a sucker for a good taboo reference on race or sexuality. I assumed this program would be much like it's predecessors; mindless, uninformative, and uninteresting. However, I was both pleasantly and negatively suprised after watching it. Pleasantly, as against my preconcessions, I was in fact interested in it. Negatively, as it made me feel wholly sick towards a prominant and respected aspect of British culture- Football.

I have never really liked football. Even when I was 8 years old and asked my dad to buy me a season ticket, it was far more about spending time with my daddy than it was enjoyment in the game. I am too much of a fan of life's comforts to willingly sit myself in the cold for 90 minutes, on hard seats,  surrounded by swearing buffoons. I have always considered this word, 'buffoon', to epitomize my feelings towards the sport in general; though nothing has ever given me more confirmation of this truth than the BBC.

'Britains' gay footallers' is a docmentary in which Amal Fashanu attempts to discover why there is a severe lack of apparent gay players in football; the new definition of 'severe lack' being one in the history of the game, Justin Fashnu. They say 1 in 7 people are gay or bisexual, so out of all the hundreds and hundreds of footballers, how is it possible that only one of them is openly gay?

Justin Fashnu was the uncle of the journalist who created the documentary. He came out as gay in 1990, and then following various seedy reprts and ultimately a sexual assult allegation, Justin comitted suicide. It seems as though the vast amounts of abuse towards him and lack of support from all areas did nothing to prevent the situation from happning. By this, I am not trying to delve myself into a personal situation and point the blame at family members who may or may not have done enough to help him; though I am trying to hilight, as the program already has done so well, the disgustingly archaic attitude of football as a sport in this country.

Many clubs and individual footballers were approached to discuss the matter, whether it be straight players around the topic of homosexuality, or as it appears the vague and distant hope that one player may gain the confidence and claim his sexuality as it stands. The program shows no such thing. Players dismiss interviews out of either lack of consideration, the fact that they have better things to do, or what I suspect to be fear that they will struggle to hold back their discriminatory attitudes. It seems to me that the culture of football needs to 'come out of the closet', and get with the times. The game of football is just as mindless as it's bizzare attitudes.

Compare this dismissal to the open interview with Gareth Thomas, a gay, Welsh rugby player, who recalls the ease at which he was able to come out; thanks to support from teammates, and the institutions of the game itself. The mere nature in which the players conducted themselves was far more fitting of country representatives than any footballer I can recall. Amal Fashnu does eventually get an interview with the FA, who state they are undergoing a 4 year plan in order to help to tackle the issue within football. 4 year plan! This is 2012, such a thing shouldn't be necessary.

My suggestion would be that they issue a response to the program, stating that any footballer who choses to come out as gay will have the full backing of the Football Association, and issues will be tackled in collaboration with them. But of course, I suppose they don't want to lie... Or upset those who are still living in the dark ages.

All in all, this program made me angry. I think any other area would have just been slightly unnecessary. 'Britains gay waitors', or 'Britains gay managers' would be rather absurd. Though I think to hilight such a disproportionate outlook on sexuality in a ridiculously overvalued part of our society was more than necessary. Perhaps then the key is for us all to reconsider the value of football, and whether hours of watching overly-preened monkeys run around kicking a ball and then crying over their stubbed toe, could be put to better use. Like watching rugby.