Joey Barton: Gay footballers would face discrimination

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Central midfielder and Queens Park Rangers captain Joey Barton attributed gay professional footballers’ fear of coming out to managers’ discrimination.

Barton told a BBC3 documentary: “Certain managers will discriminate,” and “these archaic figures think if they had a gay footballer there would be all kinds of shenanigans in the dressing room.”

Max Clifford, who has apparently known several gay players too frightened to come out, said: “When they have come to me to protect their identity, they have made it very clear that their career would be finished if they were known to be gay.”

Coming out in the world of professional football is a topic which has been heating up recently, as the head of the German Football Association, Theo Zwanziger, recently promised the institution’s support for any player wishing to come out, and that they should take “courage” in doing so.

Philipp Lahm, the German football captain, was also quoted to have said “society is not ready for gay footballers.”

Barton, who was imprisoned in 2008 for six months over common assault and affray, is well known for not keeping his opinions to himself. He recently used Twitter to launch an attack on singer and convicted paedophile Gary Glitter, and earlier made comments highlighting the ‘hypocrisy’ in professional football.

The documentary, about sexuality in sport, will be aired on the 30th of January on BBC3. It is presented by gay footballer Justin Fashanu’s niece. Fashanu hanged himself in 1998 after years of struggling with homophobic bullying, and following an investigation into alleged sexual assault, which was dropped.

There are currently no openly gay professional footballers in Britain, and only two in the world.