Despite his best efforts to encourage gay professional football player to come out of the closet in a safe space, FA boss Greg Clarke doesn’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.
The chairman of the Football Association admitted that men in top tier of the sport are reluctant to have conversations about LGBT+ inclusion or become the first high-profile player to disclose their true sexuality.
He compared the men’s league to the women’s league, which he said is “decades” behind in terms of LGBT+ inclusion amongst the clubs, players and fans.
“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,” Greg said at Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces summit at Old Trafford in Manchester.
“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.”
Using the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday as an example, he said there was a notably more accepting atmosphere in the stadium.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Asked just how far behind the women’s game he think the men are in term of LGBT+ inclusion, Greg replied: “Probably a couple of decades.”
Earlier this year, Greg Clarke revealed that he had discussions with gay players about a plan for them to all come out at once, so they didn’t have to experience the pressure on their own.