Jake Daniels' courage could become 'watershed moment' for equality in football

Report by Andy Bonner

It is hoped that a professional footballer from Blackpool revealing publicly that he is gay could prove to become a watershed moment for the sport.

17-year-old Jake Daniels shared his sexuality with the world during an interview with Sky News on Monday.

It was the first time any male footballer in the UK had done so since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Since then, support has flooded in from people across the globe, both inside and outside the sport.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson commended his "bravery" and "courage".

Mr Johnson tweeted: "Thank you for your bravery Jake, it would have taken huge courage to come out and you will be an inspiration to many both on and off the pitch."

Award-winning actor Sir Ian McKellen, who is also from Burnley in Lancashire, described Jake as "hero."

He said: "At 17, Jake Daniels represents a generation that rejects old-fashioned homophobia in football and elsewhere: those who haven’t yet grown up as he has.

"He sets an example. No wonder so many of us, gay and everyone else, admire & treasure him as a hero. What a goal he's scored!"

Blackpool's Supporters Trust echoed those sentiments in an interview with Granada Reports.

Tony Wilkinson said: "Why is it taking so long? Football needs to ask itself and hopefully things will move on from here. The elephant in the room is now gone and that can move forward with a great positive statement from Jake Daniels."

Merseyside Marauders are a Liverpool based LGBT+ football team, who provide gay, bi and trans men in the region the opportunity to play football.

Two of the club's members welcomed the news, but admitted much more work needs to be done to make more people comfortable enough to come out.

Dominic King, a player for the team said: "The campaigns are great, and it's great to see so many clubs support gay rights and try and make an open environment for football. But when you're in the stands, you still do sometimes hear that language."

"You hear them shout plays on the pitch, certain things that you don't want to hear."

Footballers from across the top flight game took to social media to offer their words of support for the 17-year-old including David de Gea.

He said he had "amazing courage and bravery".

Meanwhile, England captain Harry Kane said: "Massive credit to you Jake Daniels and the way your friends, family, club, and captain have supported you.

"Football should be welcoming for everyone."

Jamie Clarke, player manager for Village FC Manchester, a gay and inclusive football team based in the city's gay village, joined Lucy and Gamal in the studio: