GAY TIMES and EE have collaborated with talkSPORT for an hour-long roundtable discussion that will combat homophobia in football, which you can watch here today.

Hosted by former professional footballer and Champions League winner Lianne Sanderson, the roundtable features fans and former players, who discuss a variety of topics such as the meaning of a true ally, how homophobic abuse impacts queer players on and off the field and why there are more openly LGBTQ+ female players in comparison to men. 

The panel also looks towards the future, questioning where they see society in the next 10 years – including attitudes towards people of different sexualities and/or genders in the sport and if/when we can expect to see an openly queer footballer in the Premier League. 

Lianne is joined by as Fara Williams, England’s all-time most capped player and EE Hope United ambassador as well as Joe Cole, a former England, Chelsea and West Ham midfielder who has since shifted focus to punditry and television commentary, he also fronted EE’s Hope United’s GayVAR campaign with comedian, Tom Allen.

Additional panellists include Chris Paouros, the co-chair of Tottenham Hotspurs’ official LGBTQ+ fangroup the Proud Lilywhites, and Carl Fearn, the chair of Arsenal’s LGBTQ+ fan group the Gay Gooners – which currently ranks as the largest fan group for LGBTQ+ fans in the UK. 

Finally, Josh Cavallo discusses life as an openly gay player. Upon coming out in 2021, the Adelaide United midfielder made history as the world’s only openly gay male top-flight professional footballer at the time. Cavallo has since used his platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion within the sport, calling out both the Qatar World Cup and FIFA for their anti-LGBTQ+ controversies.

The roundtable follows the brand-new campaign from EE Hope United, which is part of the technology company’s ongoing commitment to affect positive societal change. Fronted by panellist Joe Cole and comedian Tom Allen, the campaign – titled GayVAR – is encouraging fans to call out online homophobic hate.

EE Hope United monitored social media across three weeks in the Premier League game, with content posted online in response to specific moments that spawn homophobic abuse, from performances of specific players to goalkeeping and dives.

Raising awareness of the archaic nature of homophobia, the short videos were shared across EE’s social media channels.

The campaign also includes a free online video content series, with additional EE Hope United members such as Rio Ferdinand, Lucy Bronze and Andy Roberton educating users on how to challenge and report online homophobic abuse. 

Pete Jeavons, Director Marketing Comms at EE, added: “The fact that Hope United is now on its third iteration demonstrates that the nature of online abuse is as varied as it is abhorrent. As long as online hate exists, Hope United will have a role to play, and EE will continue to use its platform to help create a more inclusive digital society.”

The full roundtable is available to view on the talkSPORT Youtube channel.

You can watch here or below.