Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford believes an openly gay Premier League player would be embraced in the dressing room – but says there is still work to do in eradicating homophobic abuse from the crowd.
Bamford, 28, spoke in Channel 4‘s ‘Football’s Coming Out‘ documentary, released on Tuesday, in which he said that ‘nothing should change’ in a dressing room if a team-mate decided to come out as gay.
At present there remains no openly gay players active in the Premier League.
Leeds United footballer Patrick Bamford has spoken in a new documentary for Channel 4
Bamford believes Leeds’ dressing room would be totally supportive if a player came out as gay
Sharing his thoughts on how a player might go about the process of coming out as LGBTQ+ and how he and fellow players in his team might react, Bamford said: ‘I would imagine that if someone were to come out as gay, a player would go to the captain and confide in the captain. The captain would then bring everyone together and then tell everyone the news.
‘I know in our changing room, I don’t think there would be too much of a reaction. It shouldn’t be that big of an issue in this day and age.
‘I would let them know that if they have any worries or issues, if they need to talk to someone then I am here to talk to. Don’t think just because you’ve come out that anything has changed. We’re still mates. Nothing should change.’
Earlier this month Daniel Hutchings, an analyst at League Two side Stevenage, came out but there are no openly gay players in the Premier League or the Football League, and the only openly gay player in any top-flight division in the world is Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo.
Cavallo recently took to his Instagram page to condemn homophobic crowd abuse he received during an A-League match against Melbourne Victory earlier this month.
Bamford conceded that any player in the upper echelons of English football that is considering coming out as gay will likely worry most about reaction from fans, rather than team-mates or coaches.
Daniel Hutchings, a first-team analyst at League Two club Stevenage, has spoken about the difficulties of being openly gay and working in professional football
In a Twitter post, Hutchings came out as gay and then spoke about the lack of progress on the issue within the game with barely any footballers having the courage to reveal they are gay
The Leeds striker added: ‘If they are a footballer playing at a stadium, that’s probably what they are most worried about. They’ll be thinking “are these fans going to chant stuff”, which shouldn’t happen.
‘The problem is, there are going to be a few people who are drunk at a game who might say stuff. It’s getting closer that these things are being eradicated from the game, but it’s still not quite there yet.’
Matt Morton, player-manager for Eastern Counties League Premier Division side Thetford Town and who speaks in the upcoming documentary, is the highest-ranked openly gay player in England.
‘There are 100 per cent gay men in elite football in this country,’ Morton said. ‘They just don’t feel comfortable yet to be themselves.
‘There are a lot of negatives about social media, you can also spread positivity and acceptance. The acceptance has removed some of the fear. It has fully flipped on its head. The minority are the racists, are the homophobes and the sexists.’
Former Premier League manager Ian Holloway, pictured in the documentary, said he would ‘get rid’ of any player that reacted negatively to a team-mate coming out as gay
Openly gay footballer Josh Cavallo called out homophobic abuse that was directed at him
Cavallo took to Instagram and called out crowd abuse after a draw with Melbourne Victory
Former Manchester City, Everton and England defender Joleon Lescott speaks out in the documentary, as does ex-Premier League manager Ian Holloway, who feels football remains homophobic.
Lescott feels the perception towards gay players ‘has changed’ and he says the dressing room would be the most supportive place should a player elect to come out as gay.
Holloway, who explains he would be ‘very proud’ should one of his players come out, made it clear that any player who reacted negatively to a team-mate coming out would be axed.
‘Anybody in the group who was negative towards that, I would get rid of,’ he explains. ‘Without a shadow of a doubt, because they are not a human being that I would want to put my name to.’
Football’s Coming Out will launch on All 4 and Channel 4’s YouTube from January 25, 2022.