Arsenal Ladies and England footballer Casey Stoney is not sure a high-profile male player will come out in the near future but thinks it would be a positive experience for anyone who did.
The issue of homosexuality in English football was on the agenda at the LGBT In Sports Conference in London, where Stoney was among the speakers with former NBA star John Amaechi and Olympic boxing gold medalist Nicola Adams.
Stoney publicly acknowledged she was gay in 2014, after previously admitting she feared making such an announcement would affect her career, and she feels such barriers still exist within football.
Only a shortlist of male players have come out, and of those only Justin Fashanu, Robbie Rogers and Thomas Hitzlsperger have played in top-level leagues in England, the latter not making his announcement until after he retired.
Speaking at the #TeamPride event, Stoney said: “I think there is quite a bit of work to do. It’s not just football in terms of an organisation, it’s about the fans, it’s about the terraces, the changing rooms.
“We want to get to a day when it’s no longer a story if someone comes out and I don’t think we are ever going to get to a day unless there are male players that are comfortable and they don’t live in fear that it is going to be held against them.
“The biggest reason [a player won’t come out] is probably fear. There’s 80,000 people in the stands who will use anything to make you feel bad.
“I think it would be a really positive experience if someone high profile came out – it would change the game, change the terraces and be a positive experience for football.
“It hasn’t happened yet – how long is a piece of string. I can’t see it happening any time soon but society is changing and I know that from personal experience, so I think it would be a positive thing for the person that did.”[…]