Sol Campbell: I nearly quit football over gay rumours and racism

Sol Campbell, Manager of Macclesfield Town looks on prior to a match on December 4, 2018

Former England footballer Sol Campbell has revealed that he nearly quit the sport over rumours about his sexuality and jibes about his race.

The defender is straight and has a son with his ex-wife, but was a persistent victim of homophobic chants during the peak of his playing career.

He told the Times of experiencing racism and homophobia: “You still have the banana jokes. It’s not just colour, fans talk about gas chambers.

“They think they can get away with it and at the moment they can. The homophobia is worse. You still couldn’t come out as a footballer, they have to wait until afterwards. That’s really sad.

“I was dating and had girlfriends, but I wanted to keep football separate.

“Football allows more unacceptable behaviour than other sports. When the fans pick on an individual player that’s not nice. We need to get to the stage where people in the crowd tell other fans it’s not acceptable.

“In Britain we pretend it’s not really happening and life is changing slowly, but it is still not a walk in the park for ethnic minorities, gays, women.

“There were moments when it became too much. West Ham at home with Arsenal I couldn’t come out in the second half. It was a chipping effect over the years. I suddenly couldn’t face it.”

He said abuse got worse after he joined Arsenal, saying: “It went to a different galaxy, stratosphere. I wasn’t prepared for the length of time it went on and no one stepped in until I stepped in finally.

“The FA allowed it. When I needed it most no one said, ‘This is wrong’. We are young guys with very pressurised jobs and they don’t help us.”