On Tuesday a brave young man by the name of Josh Cavallo from Australia who plays in the country’s A-League went on social media and came out as gay to the world. He is now officially the first gay male player to come out of the closet. This represents a whole knew chapter in as far as sensitive social issues in soccer are concerned. Racial relations in the sport has been at the forefront in the years or so but the issue of homosexuality has largely been kept under wraps. Players have come out after they have retired from the game such as Thomas Hitzlsperger , the former German international. The reason why most do it after they retire is that coming out whether I like it or most of you guys like it is almost a death knell to a player’s career. Today I will point out the reason why although it was a brave decision to go public with this , it was not in his best interest to do so.
The game of soccer originated in the North of England which was the center of the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century. As such the players who played the game were poor factory workers who should I say had a traditional macho mentality. The “macho” tradition that soccer is a man’s sport went down generation to generation until today. This culture has even made its way to the stands with fans sometimes chanting gay slurs at opposing fans. This backwardness isn’t going away any time soon Josh came out. Nope. It is just the way the game was invented. If a woman was the first one to pick up the ball in the 1800s and invented the game , maybe things would be different. But however it has to stop at one point. Being gay or straight doesn’t mean the player is not a good soccer player. Like race, being gay has nothing to do with the player’s skill. It is just the culture.
Take for example Robbie Fowler’s despicable gay taunt at Graeme Le Saux in 1999 when he bent over and pointed at his butt. Graeme wasn’t gay but his love for the bourgeois way of life prompted the taunts. So you see soccer’s working class background has made some players think that if you are different (middle class upbringing), you got to be gay and not welcome in the game at all. The clubs have not helped at all in this regard by perpetuating notion, even going as far as hiring a PR firm if gay rumors about a player start circulating. They do this because they are afraid of alienating a section of their fanbase and afraid a boycott might hit them in the pocket. So will this situation change? I am afraid it will be a long time till we accept that being gay in soccer is okay but there is hope though. If more and more higher profile players come out we might see a shift. But as it is right now if you are gay and you decide to go public, you are gambling with your career and livelihood.