Gay rugby star Thomas calls on footballers to 'break the taboo'
Gay rugby player Gareth Thomas has called on a Premier League footballer to “break the taboo” of homosexuality in football by coming out.
The 100-cap former Wales full-back said that any sportsman who came out was a step in the right direction. He claimed that if a footballer came out publicly it may inspire young, gay footballers to keep playing the game.
Thomas was responding to the gay British basketball player John Amaechi’s comments that he doubted whether Premier League footballers coming out would deal with the issue of “deep homophobia” in the game.
Thomas told Radio 5 Live: “In so many sports there are stereotypes, and unless these guys are shown not to be the stereotypes we all think they are, then sport cannot evolve, so I find that statement quite puzzling.
“If there is a Premier League footballer who has the support of his family and friends, then it would open it up to people of a younger generation that are coming through and want to be a professional footballer.”
‘Issues in football’
Thomas also hit out at publicist Max Clifford, who claimed in December that he had advised two top Premiership players to stay in the closet because football was “steeped in homophobia.”
Thomas said: “There are a couple of issues in football – they need to establish exactly where the homophobia lies on football, does it lie in the terraces, in the changing rooms or above with the people that run the game?
“But for Max to say that is a big statement. I think if someone has the support of their family and friends then that’s all that guy needs – and he may be able to break a taboo.”
Ospreys flanker Jonathan Thomas was forced to apologise this week after making a jibe about openly-gay rugby referee Nigel Owens on Twitter.
But Gareth Thomas insisted that people making jokes was a sign of acceptance. He said: “I think it is good when your friends around you speak about it or make jokes about it.
“What a lot of people need to understand is that in a team environment if people don’t speak about it or joke about it, then it’s not accepted.
“If people are taking the mick out of you, then you feel it is accepted. If they say nothing then they haven’t accepted it, because they can’t talk about it.
“The world is so politically correct you can’t say anything. The team environment is very unlike the rest of the environment, so when your teammate makes what is perceived to be a negative comment outside, it is seen as fun inside the changing rooms.”
He made his comments ahead of a BBC interview with Irish hurling legend Donal Og Cusack, a three-time All-Irish medal winner who came out in his autobiography last year.
Excerpt from walesonline.co.uk