England football manager Gareth Southgate says locker room would ’embrace’ gay player

England manager Gareth Southgate wearing a navy coloured suit jacket and tie over a white shirt smiles to the camera at the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying Group Stage Draw - Ceremony

England football manager Gareth Southgate has said that his locker room would “accept and embrace” a gay player, adding that he hopes a player on the men’s national team “comes out soon”.

As conversation concerning LGBTQ+ players and fans peak ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, Southgate said an England player coming out “would have an enormous impact on society”.

“The teams and players wouldn’t have any problem with it… They would accept and embrace their teammates after coming out,” he said in an interview with an Italian newspaper on Sunday (6 November), according to AP News.

He added that despite teams themselves being “totally supportive”, some unnamed players who may want to come out as gay fear the reaction from fans.

“Footballers are afraid of the reactions outside and from the fans,” Southgate said.

“European teams have never been as tolerant, multicultural and multi-religious as they are today… Of course, there will always be homophobes on the outside.”

Blackpool football star Jake Daniels came out publicly as gay in May 2022, making him the first professional player in British men’s football to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990. Then in September, Zaner Murray became the first-ever top flight Scottish male footballer to come out as gay.

The triumphant England women’s national team the Lionesses, which won the Women’s Euro 2022 championships, also has a number of queer players including heroes Beth Mead and Jill Scott.

Gareth Southgate also confirmed in the interview that despite it being illegal to be LGBTQ+ in Qatar, the England captain will be wearing a rainbow anti-discrimination armband during the tournament.

“We need to respect a country with a different culture, religion and traditions. But at the same time we have the responsibility and the possibility to shed light on aspects that can be improved,” Southgate said.

His comments have come as LGBTQ+ allies, politicians, and football associations have raised concerns over the treatment of queer people in Qatar, and whether it will be safe to visit the country as the tournament begins on 20 November.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly was criticised in October for urging LGBTQ+ fans to “compromise” with the country if they attend.

Speaking to LBC, Cleverly said he had “spoken to the Qatari authorities” about LGBTQ+ football fans visiting, and that “they want to make sure that football fans are safe, secure and enjoy themselves”.

“One of the things I would say for football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation… with a little bit of flex and compromise on both ends, it can be a safe, secure, and exciting World Cup,” he added.

FIFA told PinkNews in a statement: “Qatar is committed to ensuring that everyone will be able to enjoy the tournament in a safe and welcoming environment, to building bridges of cultural understanding and to creating an inclusive experience for all participants and attendees, including members of the LGBTIQ+ community.

“FIFA is confident that all necessary measures will be in place for LGBTIQ+ fans and allies to enjoy the tournament in a welcoming and safe environment, just as for everyone else.”

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