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'Not one' gay footballer is willing to talk, says FA boss

2017-10-04

The Football Association's attempts at making contact with gay professional footballers, in secret or anonymously, appear to have misfired. According to the Telegraph, no gay professional footballer was willing to meet FA chairman Greg Clarke despite his attempts. Clarke allegedly met with gay activists, publishers and charities to talk about the issues and claimed that people at the "semi-pro level and below" aren't worried. He said: "I haven't met one player at professional level who would even agree to meet me in the middle of nowhere for a conversation over a cup of coffee. Not one." He added: "I don't blame them for that. If they don't feel comfortable having that conversation, it doesn't say good things about our game." The FA chairman then denied that the reluctance stems from a fear of abuse from fans on social media. "I don't want to speculate about what's in their heads. They obviously don't feel comfortable. I've spoken to the Premier League, the EFL [English Football League], the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association], the LMA [League Manager's Association]," he said. "We are all desperate to make the game more LGBT-inclusive. We haven't yet won the trust of the professional gay players. I've reached out. I've seen athletes, swimmers, divers, I've gone everywhere. And they've shared their views with me.   "I've said, 'Why won't gay footballers meet me?' They've all said, 'I don't know because I don't know any gay footballers.' "They're all very deeply buried." Clarke stated that he understands that gay footballers don't need to confirm their sexuality, but says that players "should be comfortable, accepted and supported."   He added: "Where I worry is that there may be people who want to be openly gay but don't feel able to be openly gay." Thomas Hitzlsperger came out as gay in 2014, just months after retiring from football. Robbie Rogers came out in 2013 after retiring from the sport too, but later returned to the game after joining LA Galaxy in the same year. Meanwhile, Liam Davis became the first openly gay footballer to play at Wembley Stadium in May in the FA Vase final. More stories: Male sports stars strip naked for Dieux du Stade 2018 calendar This gay couple have been together since before homosexuality was decriminalised