Martina Navratilova says ‘Gay footballers must tackle hatred’
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova claims more needs to be done to rid football of homophobia in Britain. The former tennis champion urged gay footballers to be loud and proud about their sexuality.
“It is important because it is the last bastion of prejudice that is still OK in some places,” the 56-year-old told me in her role as patron of tomorrow’s Pride In London parade. “It’s slowly losing its ground and now it’s almost not OK to be a homophobe.
“In sports, some fans would not be happy about it but it would be a good step forward again in helping kids deal with their sexuality and people’s overall acceptance and really not paying much attention to it any more.
“But there still is some negative attention so it’s important that people are out to make it easier for the next generation to be who they are and not pretend. The nine-times Wimbledon champion also explained the importance of equal marriage rights for gay people.
“Once you have equal marriage and rights and have full equality under the law it just validates you and makes prejudice that is overt impossible,” she said.
“In the States, for example, in 29 states you can be fired for being gay or fired if your employer thinks you are gay.
“So it’s not about marriage itself. It’s about equal rights overall. Marriage represents that. Once you can get married then nobody can say “you can’t do this because you are gay”. Or fire me for being gay. That’s what marriage represents. It’s much more than just marriage.”