Euro 2024: Would England fans accept a gay footballer?

As the Euro 2024 football tournament kicks off in Germany, a group of England fans have said they don’t give a damn about a player’s sexuality as long as he’s good at the game.

Ahead of England’s first game in the men’s Euro 2024 on Sunday (16 June), PinkNews heard from fans at a recent friendly at Wembley Stadium. “As long as it doesn’t affect me, I don’t [give] a monkey’s,” one said. “They can be a rabbit, as far as I’m concerned.”

There are still no out gay male football players in the English Premier League, which has a history of homophobic incidents concerning fans.

A report in 2023 from football’s leading anti-discrimination organisation, Kick It Out, found that there were a record amount of discriminatory behaviour during the 2022-23 season, with 1,007 reports stemming from the professional game, from local clubs to international teams – representing a 65.1 per cent rise on the previous season.

A football player wearing an LGBTQ+ armband.
PinkNews asked football fans were asked whether they cared about a player’s sexuality. (Getty)

Despite this, many England fans told PinkNews that they would love to see closeted players have the courage to come out.

“If they were [queer], then it’d be great if they could come out and feel comfortable within themselves and the environment within football,” one fan said. “I think that is one thing that needs to be better and hopefully it will be soon.”

Another said: “Everyone should be able to be who they want to be.”

Several of those interviewed said they would support a player’s sexuality, mostly because they only care about a star’s skill.

“You play for your country, it doesn’t matter,” one fan said. “I’d still support you. I would hope that everyone will support it.”

Another said that there needs to be more of a conversation about homophobia in the football community, adding that organisations such as the Football Association (FA) or world governing body FIFA need to “make people more aware and try to make it more of a comfortable space”.

Chelsea player Cesar Azpilicueta claps during the end of a match while a Pride Chelsea flag waves in the background.
Chelsea players have been routinely targeted with homophobic chants. (Getty)

In 2023, the FA announced it would be taking a harsher stance on homophobia after an incident involving the “Chelsea rent boy” chant at a game in January 2023.

The offensive chant was heard during a game between Nottingham Forest and Chelsea on New Year’s Day and again five days later when Manchester United fans directed it towards Everton manager Frank Lampard, a former Chelsea star.

Any clubs across all leagues will face “formal disciplinary action” if their fans use homophobic chants during a game, an FA statement threatened.

“The FA has informed all clubs that it considers the ‘rent boy’ chant to be a breach of the FA rules,” a spokesperson said.

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