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Survey shows there's still too much homophobia in football

A survey of more than 400 football fans in Hertfordshire has found the sport still has a serious problem with homophobia.

Police and the county's Football Association commissioned the research in the run up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

It found there was still too little acceptable of homosexuality in the game - and suggested the days of openly gay professional footballer were still a long way away.

Callum Ellis is Hitchin Town FC's community coach and is gay. He said he hoped shining a light on the problem would help reduce it.

Police and the FA want to improve attitudes to the LGBT+ community in football Credit: Press Association

"During the time I have been involved in the county I have frequently had vile homophobic abuse directed at me and players I have coached.

"It is clear real discrimination still exists, but as a result of this partnership working I feel the future is brighter for LGBT+ players, coaches and all those involved in football in Hertfordshire."

– Callum Ellis.

The results of the survey were revealed today. It found:

  • 86% would feel comfortable if their favourite club signed a new gay player
  • 81% said homophobic chanting at matches was unacceptable
  • 45% had heard homophobic abuse at a game within the last three years
  • 10% feared having a gay player would make team mates feel uncomfortable
  • 19% disagreed that gay football players should come out to help others do the same
  • 10% believed gay professional players should keep their sexuality to themselves
  • 61% of fans want clubs to do more to educate fans about homophobia
  • 20% would not feel comfortable reporting abuse if they were a victim at a match
  • 94% think clubs and police should take action against abuse by arresting offenders, banning them from grounds, or referring them to police

"While our survey has revealed some positive attitudes to having gay, lesbian and transgender players in the game - and to challenging homophobia in football - the results also demonstrate this prejudice still exists.

"Additionally not only are there still currently no openly gay male players in English football, even the Football Supporters Federation has recently warned LGBT+ supporters to not openly display their sexuality if they are attending the World Cup.

"Therefore clearly the police and the country’s footballing community need to do more to change this."

– Ch Supt Matthew Nicholls, Hertfordshire Police

Hertfordshire Police and the Hertfordshire FA have pledged to work together to take a strong stance against homophobia in football and make it a thing of the past.

They will create a "third party reporting centre" at football clubs across the county to allow victims of any hate crime report offences immediately without having to come into direct contact with police officers.