More than 150 people and 100 organisations have signed a letter criticising ‘sensationalist’ media coverage that speculates about the sexuality of male football players. The letter, organised by network and consultancy group Sports Media LGBT, argues media narratives about anonymous players who are ‘afraid to come out’ are ‘dangerous and speculative’.
It states: “If we are to help LGBTQ+ people in our sport who are struggling to arrive at their own sense of pride, while also avoid fuelling speculation about who is and isn’t LGBTQ+, then greater transparency and a more constructive approach is required from the media.” It draws on recent coverage of Premier League footballer who the media deemed ‘on the verge’ of coming out, and argued that speculative articles such as this are likely to make LGBTQ+ players “feel less safe and less likely to feel they can be honest and open about their identity”.
The letter also urges football authorities to do more to increase LGBTQ+ representation within the sport and acknowledge how certain types of xenophobic language and behaviour ‘can make people feel unsafe’. It continued: “We urge UEFA and FIFA, with their respective #EqualGame and Fair Play campaigns, to set an example at the highest levels of the game for member associations to follow and to be bolder in their visible support for LGBTQ+ inclusion”.
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