FA boss Greg Clarke says men’s football is two decades behind women’s game

The chairman of the Football Association (FA) has said that he thinks men’s football is “probably a couple of decades” behind the women’s game, in terms of LGBT+ inclusion.

Speaking at Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces summit at Old Trafford, he said there is something “not right” about the men’s game when it comes to inclusion.

The head of the UK football governing body admitted that there was a reluctance to accept LGBT+ people in men’s football.

Feet and football

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He said: “I have had conversations with the PFA and the LMA on this issue, and we have talked about how we can encourage professional footballers who want to come out to come out in a safe space.”

Adding: “We are trying to engage with them, to talk to them. But to be perfectly frank, they are reticent to engage with me.”

“You can talk to people from the women’s game, which is inclusive, which is safe. But something about the men’s game is not right because if it was right, we could have those conversations.”

Going on, Clark noted the atmosphere at the Women’s FA Cup final on Saturday.

He said: “I was at the Women’s FA Cup final and it was great, inclusive – there were gay people, straight people, transgender people, and it was a wonderful occasion.

“For me, when the finals in the men’s competitions have the same feel, we will have succeeded.

“It is about when the men’s game starts to feel as inclusive as the women’s game – then we are there.”

Clarke was later asked when he thought the men’s game would catch up with the women’s, and replied: “Probably a couple of decades.”

He has in the past sought to address the issue, telling a committee of MPs in 2015 that he would work to minimise abuse a gay player would face.

Former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers and former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger have both come out as gay in recent years, but only after retiring from English football.