Football study finds 93% of fans disapprove of anti-gay abuse

A study of more than 2,000 football fans has found that the vast majority frown upon homophobic abuse shouted from the terraces.

The research, carried out by the University of Staffordshire, found that 93 per cent of those surveyed disapproved of the abuse and 60 per cent thought gay footballers should come out of the closet.

More than 90 per cent thought that the only thing that matters is how a player performs on the pitch.

The online questionnaire, which was self-selecting, was distributed in fan forums.

According to the study’s author, the findings are proof that football’s governing bodies are not doing enough to tackle homophobia in the sport.

The Football Association recently shelved an anti-homophobia video, saying that the sport and its fans were not ready for it.

However, Professor Ellis Cashmore from Staffordshire University, said that fans were more enlightened than they were given credit for.

He said of clubs and governing bodies: “They are so out of step it is embarrassing.”

Responding to the criticisms, a Professional Footballers’ Association spokeswoman told the Herald: “Currently we do not have any members of the PFA who have openly declared they are gay.

“If a player approached us regarding this matter there are support mechanisms in place to ensure the player has the full support of the association.”

Only one high-level footballer has ever come out, despite high-level players in others sports, such as rugby, feeling able to declare they are gay.

Norwich City player Justin Fashanu revealed he was gay in 1990. He committed suicide eight years later.

Last year, PR guru Max Clifford told he was representing gay and bisexual footballers but had advised them to stay in the closet to avoid ruining their careers.

A recent Stonewall survey found fans believed homophobia was rife in the sport and over half of fans think the FA, Premier League and Football League are not doing enough to tackle anti-gay abuse.

Many of those questioned by the survey felt homophobia was not seen to be as serious as racism, while some criticised the FA for a “gross” lack of leadership.