FA chairman Greg Clarke has revealed that he has spoken to gay footballers about them potentially revealing their sexuality.
The subject has been heavily discussed of late but there are still no current Premier League players who have publicly revealed that they are gay.
As reported by The Times, Clarke said: “I put the message out there that if a number of top-level pros want to come out, why don’t we synchronise it? So one person doesn’t have to come out on their own.
“The Premier League, the Football League and the FA could do it at the start of the season. At the start of the season everybody thinks it is their season, the crowds are happy, the sun is shining. I was asked [recently] if football is ready for top-level pros to come out and I said I’m not sure we were. There was a survey which said people would support gay people in their own team, yes, but I’m worried about what they said about gay people in the other team, not that they would do bad things, but I said we should prepare well.
“I’ve been asking the gay community, ‘How can we provide more support and orchestrate it so that people get the right level of support if people want to be open about their sexuality?’ I’ve met 15 gay sports people in the last four weeks to ask their views, including footballers. It is very difficult to get to a representative set of gay top-level footballers because some of them are happy with their sexuality and just don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want to be part of a process that says, ‘You’ve got to come out.’ That’s not right. People are cautious. It’s a one-way street. Once you’re out of the closet, you’re out.”
Former Norwich City striker Justin Fashanu came out after his playing career was finished, as did ex-Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger.
Torslanda IK defender Anton Hysen and LA Galaxy striker Robbie Hysen are the only two major current players who have revealed that they are gay.
Furthermore, a BBC Radio 5 Live survey published in October 2016 found that 82% of sports fans would have no issue with a gay player, but also disclosed that 8% of fans say they would stop watching their team if one of their players was gay.
Meanwhile, 18% of people asked believe that gay footballers should keep their sexual orientation to themselves. 15% of respondents believe that having a gay player on a team would make other team-mates feel uncomfortable.
Information from Squawka, The Times and BBC Radio 5 were used in this article