a documentary by Adam Jessel
2012 | 60 mins | UK
›› Britain's Gay Footballers
making the game, a beautiful one.
Britain's Gay Footballers by Adam Jessel And with a title like that, the question obviously beckons - who? For with the sole exception of Justin Fashanu's public outing of 1990, Britain today has no gay footballers. Well at least officially, as fourteen years following Justin's tragic death, his niece Amal Fashanu poignantly poses the question of why no player in the UK has followed in the coming out boots of her uncle?

It is a quest that takes her in many directions, not least being an emotionally painful journey through her family's past. Then again, this is no easy subject to get to the heart of, as Amal is soon to find that even canvassing the views of straight players on the issue of homosexuality within the sporting arena, makes for an uphill struggle. Thankfully there are those who are more than willing to comment, talking heads that here range from the like of publicist Max Clifford, to out and proud Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas, let alone the questioning "do they really want it to change?" mindset of former NBA player and now noted gay rights campaigner John Amaechi.

Britain's Gay Footballers by Adam Jessel That any player willing to publicly out himself would almost certainly face a living hell of intimidating taunts from opposing fans, as footballer banter crosses the line to homophobic abuse, is a sad reflection on the sport itself. Yet in an atmosphere in which Justin Fashanu's brother John adds that "there's more chance of the next Pope being black, than you finding a footballer who will come out," there are signs of optimism. For whilst not out to the public, a number of gay players are more than at ease to go to the parties of their team mates with their partners and live in a sense, a reasonably open lifestyle, having found support from one and all in the dressing room.

Only what goes on behind closed doors is different to that as seen on the pitch and here and like a bloodhound, Amal's determination to track down an openly gay footballer willing to talk to her in front of a television camera finally pays off in the form of Swedish 4th division player Anton Hysen; son of former Liverpool star Glenn Hysen who in recently having said it like it is, remains officially, the sole gay professional footballer in Europe. That neither his club, nor in the main its fans have a problem with Hysen's sexuality, is it could be argued more indicative of the liberal outlook of Sweden, than the reality of the situation, given little in the UK appears to have changed in the many months since the BBC's Inside Sport Special - The Last Taboo raised similar concerns. Then again, perhaps part of the problem lies with the nature of the sport itself and not just the big money and the seemingly inherent fear, whether rightly or wrongly, of thereafter missing out on many a lucrative deal, but and as Joey Barton / QPR captain keenly noted: "certain managers and certain individuals will discriminate against people" and when you work within a profession in which the transfer window is always open, the support you could well have at one club, may not necessarily follow you to the next. All of which makes education an ever vital part of the FA's four year plan to encourage more gay players to participate at grassroots level, in the hope of making the game, truly a beautiful one.

An informative documentary, clearly delivered from the heart.
"In the last fifteen to twenty years, (there's) probably half a dozen (footballers) that I know are either gay or bisexual."
Max Clifford / publicist.

"The real problem I have with it, is that they're got every resource. They're got near unlimited money. They're got the power to change this if they want to. My question is whether they want to?"
John Amaechi / former NBA player and gay rights campaigner.

"The lads are so supportive in the dressing room; I don't think there would be any problems within that sort of environment."
Darren Purse / player, Millwall FC.

"Some people knew about three years ago, before I did this (came out), so it hasn't been an issue. Nobody really cares."
Anton Hysen / officially, the sole gay professional footballer in Europe.

"There is no doubt in my mind that within the next ten years, we will have an openly gay footballer" (in the UK).
Joey Barton / captain, QPR FC.
a BBC 3 premiere: Monday.30.January.2012 / 21:00 to 22:00.
presented by Amal Fashanu, with contributions from:
John Fashanu / ex footballer, Matt Lucas / comic actor, John McGovern / former Nottingham Forest FC captain,

Max Clifford / publicist, Gareth Thomas / former Wales Rugby captain, Josh Lewsey MBE / England Rugby

World Cup winner, Darren Purse, Steve Mildenhall and Paul Robinson / from Millwall FC,

John Amaechi / former NBA player, Anton Hysen / openly gay pro. footballer,

Joey Barton / QPR FC captain and Funke Awoderu / FA Equality Manager.
featuring archive footage / interviews with Justin Fashanu.
official website:
Copyright 2012 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #462
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