By now, regardless of if you follow football or not, you’ll have heard about the two Premier League footballers who are reportedly planning on coming out as gay.
The story broke last week, with the original article coming from The Mirror.
The paper claimed the two footballers were only just in the process of telling their families, and that they planned to come out in the summer, ahead of the 2016/17 season.
The fact that they then decided to run the article, knowing full well that the speculation would be rife for the next six months over just which footballers were gay, speaks volumes in itself. It was done knowing the story would go viral, knowing speculation would grow and grow, and knowing footballers would be insensitively probed on whether it is in fact them.
It is highly similar to what happened when another speculative story hit the press in 2014 – with Luke Shaw and Ashley Cole both emphatically denying they were the ‘gay footballer’.
Shaw has again come out to deny it is him – which now shows two things:
Firstly, there is sadly such a huge stigma around footballer’s sexuality, and it is such a sensitive personal issue that, regrettably, footballers do not want to be known as gay, or even suspected of being homosexual. And secondly, that the article has done a huge amount of damage to the fight against homophobia in football, and consequently, the chances of those two players coming out.
Now, after facing what will be more than half a season of speculation, they may well change their minds on whether they come out or not at all. They may well feel pressured, and their performances may be affected. The Mirror, and every other news outlet who have sensationalised the story knew this and ran with it regardless. This is prioritising sales over what is morally right.
Now, one betting company has audaciously decided to offer odds on the ‘First England footballer to come out as gay before 1st September 2016’.
This is exactly what articles suggesting players are ready to come out as gay have provoked. Win Cash Live are responsible for their actions, and they should be thoroughly ashamed.
That being said, had the tabloids waited until the players had announced they were gay, and then run an article fully supporting them, it would not have happened.
Win Cash Live spoke to The Independent, saying:
We think it is a shame that the culture in football has made it so difficult for gay players to come out.
We do not want to cause offence and are not seeking to trivialise the coming out of a gay England footballer, but it is exactly the kind of high profile, unpredictable and topical market which wincashlive.com customers would expect us to offer odds on.
The fact that the betting company have even tried to do damage control after a backlash speaks volumes, and shows that they are now fully aware how grossly wrong having such odds are.
Despite that, for the sake of some extra publicity and cash, they are willing to do it anyway.
After the original article broke, UNILAD Football addressed the fact that support needed to be given to the footballers targeted by the speculation, and the fight against homophobia in football.
Some other news outlets and companies looking to cash in on publicity from the very real struggle of two players is disgusting, and something they should be thoroughly condemned for – not rewarded.