Arsenal’s communications chief, Mark Gonnella, recently spoke to BBC Radio 4 about how he hopes that gay footballers will be able to come out in future, using Gunner, Casey Stoney, as an example.
Stoney officially came out in 2014. However, in 2012, she was named on The Independent’s ‘Pink List’ of influential lesbian and gay people in the UK. She received widespread support and now has twins with her wife, Megan Harris.
Gonnella believes that although the support Stoney received may not be the same in male football right now, Arsenal, along with the charity Stonewall, are pushing for it to be.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Gonnella said, “We are part of ensuring that environment does change sufficiently that a player would feel comfortable to do it.
“We’ve seen it happen in the women’s game and our very own Casey Stoney has come out.
“She has got massive support from across sport and the football club at Arsenal.
“Campaigns like the one by Stonewall are all about making people realise homophobia is socially unacceptable.
“That’s what we’re trying to do at Arsenal and that’s what Stonewall are trying to do by getting the whole of grassroots football behind their Rainbow Laces campaign.”
Arsenal have worked with Stonewall as part of their Rainbow Laces campaign for years now and are one of the main Premier League clubs involved. They’re working to spread awareness and protect those in the LGBT+ community and although they’ve done brilliantly so far, there is still work to do.
Hopefully Gonnella is right and one day all footballers can be free from harassment.
For more on Stonewall and the amazing work they do, click here.