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01:44 | 24th June 2017

News: UK

Mon 15 Feb, 2010
By Sam Bristowe


If there is a Premier League footballer who has the support of his family and friends, then it would open it up to people of a younger generation that are coming through and want to be a professional footballer

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Gay rugby star Gareth Thomas has asked Premier League footballers to come out of the closet in order to tackle the issues of homosexuality in football.
Thomas, who came out as gay last December, has claimed that he thinks if footballers were to follow in his footsteps and came out about their sexuality it may inspire other young people .
Speaking to Radio 5 live, Thomas said: “In so many sports there are stereotypes, and unless these guys are shown not to be the stereotypes we all think they are, then sport cannot evolve, so I find that statement quite puzzling.
“If there is a Premier League footballer who has the support of his family and friends, then it would open it up to people of a younger generation that are coming through and want to be a professional footballer.”
It was recently reviled the celebrity PR agent Max Clifford told two premiership footballers to stay in the closet.

Thomas said about the decision by Clifford : “There are a couple of issues in football – they need to establish exactly where the homophobia lies on football, does it lie in the terraces, in the changing rooms or above with the people that run the game?
“But for Max to say that is a big statement. I think if someone has the support of their family and friends then that’s all that guy needs – and he may be able to break a taboo.”
Thomas is known to have encouraged people to make jokes about his homosexuality and likes the team environment. According to Wales online the rugby star sees it as a sign of acceptance.
“I think it is good when your friends around you speak about it or make jokes about it.
“What a lot of people need to understand is that in a team environment if people don’t speak about it or joke about it, then it’s not accepted.
“If people are taking the mick out of you, then you feel it is accepted. If they say nothing then they haven’t accepted it, because they can’t talk about it.
“The world is so politically correct you can’t say anything. The team environment is very unlike the rest of the environment, so when your teammate makes what is perceived to be a negative comment outside, it is seen as fun inside the changing rooms.”
Thomas also said that his parents are proud of him and his successful career in the mach sport. “My parents are more proud of me playing now than they were prior to my coming out.”

 

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