Just over one in three heterosexual football fans (37%) think the game is becoming a safer space for players to come out as LGBTQ+, new research reveals.
As part of Paddy Power’s continuing commitment to kick out homophobia in football, we have joined forces with GAY TIMES to carry out the most authoritative survey yet into attitudes towards LGBTQ+ issues in the modern game.
Speaking with 1,010 heterosexual football fans across the country, the YouGov survey exposed significant issues which still need to be addressed before the community reaches a level playing field in terms of acceptance.
To date, there are no players who feel comfortable coming out at the top levels of the professional men’s game in England.
So, despite 80% of fans revealing they would be uncomfortable hearing homophobic abuse at a game, around a third (30%) admit they would find two men kissing at a match uncomfortable.
Nearly half of respondents in the survey (47%) reported that they would like to see more LBGTQ+ figures across all levels of the game – across players, managers and coaching staff, however, over a third (36%) felt that homophobia in the game was “not an issue”.
It was noted that football grounds remain challenging environments for the LGBTQ+ community; a third (33%) of fans said that they believed LGBTQ+ supporters weren’t made to feel welcome and accepted at matches, and nearly two thirds (63%) admitted they wouldn’t be confident confronting any of their team’s fans for using homophobic abuse.
Whilst respondents reported that the issue needs to be addressed on a smaller scale, 69% still felt that the Football Association should be doing more to prevent homophobia in the game in UK. Over half (55%) wanted their team to increase its support for LGBTQ+ rights for players.
Tag Warner, CEO at GAY TIMES, said: “Recent years have seen real and meaningful progress in tackling discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community among football fans – but our research shows there remains significant work to be done.
“So while football fans make the right noises by saying homophobic abuse has no place in the modern game and stress that they would like to see more out LGBTQ+ figures, it’s depressing to see that a third would find two men kissing a problem while the same proportion believe homophobia is not an issue.
“With Paddy Power we’re committed to rooting out and kicking out homophobia wherever it’s located.
“These problematic attitudes tarnish a sport that brings so much happiness to millions across the country.”
Paddy Power, our own spokesman, said: “We come from a privileged position and have tried to make serious efforts to tackle homophobia in football for several years.
“These statistics show that while others too have done outstanding work to stamp it out, there is a huge task still ahead.”