Graeme Souness has a worrying transfer theory about gay players coming out

Graeme Souness sat down with Paddy Power and Gay Times to discuss what he thinks would happen if a player came out as gay. He also lifts the lid on the homophobic dressing rooms he was once a part of and how he has now changed.


I fear clubs would worry about transfer value if a player came out

As a manager, you’d have to immediately go to your chief executive or chairman if a player came to you and said he was about to come out. As cynical as the football world is, and it is a cynical world, it’s all about money today.

I think the first concern would, unfortunately, not be the boy’s welfare. It’d be more to do with his worth. He’s worth 50 million quid today so, if he comes out, is that going to add money to his value?

I think, commercially, it certainly would for the club, but in terms of another club buying him does it diminish his value? I’m sorry to make it sound very cynical, but I think that’d be the concern of management.

Football is an area that has to address homophobia and hopefully one day we can make football comfortable enough with itself and welcoming. Where someone can actually step and say, “You know what? I’m gay.”

Ban the homophobes forever

We cannot have something so archaic, something that should have been addressed tens of years ago, if not hundreds of years ago, in football.

That you can’t go to a football match without hearing, and again I’m trying to use a term that’s acceptable, a ‘village idiot’ being responsible for poisoning the atmosphere for the decent people who go to football matches.

You’ve got to get hold of him, and physically throw him out or just call the police, and he should be banned forever – “You’re never coming back, you’re not wanted.”

It has to be self-policed, that’s the way you’ll solve the problem.

The good people that go to football matches, and they are the vast majority, they have to be confronting it. Whether that’s by calling a policeman and saying, “Look, this guy’s unacceptable, get him out of this stadium, I’ve got my son with me, I’ve got my wife with me.”

And it is that now, it’s not just Dad and lad, it’s my wife and my daughter might be there. Get them out of the stadium and slowly but surely you will get rid of these idiots.

For kids who are gay, it must be really tough. We have the support of maybe 20 guys in the dressing room that we can lean on. We can say “Oh that d*ck there calling me names” and you’ve got the support of your teammates. But for someone who comes out and who is gay, it must be very difficult because they must feel so alone.

I was in homophobic dressing rooms

When I was a player, the dressing rooms I were a part of were extremely homophobic.

I’m sure that if there was a video of me in every single dressing room, you would have found me saying something that I wouldn’t be terribly proud of today. I joined in, because I felt you had to be like that, you had to be one of the boys. I learned from my 20-year-old son about his views on politics.

I don’t always agree with his politics, but on homophobia and racism I’ve learnt from him. But I like to think I’ve learned from my mistakes.

You get to a certain stage in your life where you’re more sure about what is right and what is wrong.

I don’t think anyone who has got a modicum of intelligence thinks it’s right that people can be abused – and sometimes very badly abused – for their sexuality.

You go through your life, and you have experiences yourself and hopefully, you learn from them.

I had a very dear friend, who was gay, who had a high profile in the UK and died two years ago. I got very close to him, him and my wife were pals for over 10 years. I knew how sad he was at times (about homophobia) but things did get better for him.

In the period I knew him, the attitude toward gay people did improve, slowly but surely and he was aware of that.

* Scott Brown and Graeme Souness were speaking as part of Paddy Power’s anti-homophobia football campaign, in partnership with GAY TIMES.