Two years ago, prior to England Women winning the Cricket World Cup, England footballer Carly Telford was interviewed by the BBC and wished her cricket-playing partner good luck.
The relationship between the two women is well-known, but the casual nature of the interview highlighted how progressive the women’s game is compared to how men’s football is portrayed. Little has changed in the time since, in fact, the gap as probably widened as more female footballers feel safe coming out while the men remain in the closet.
— Jo Currie (@JoCurrie) July 23, 2017
I don’t think anyone bats an eyelid as they are well-known relationships in women’s football. Homosexuality is not a taboo subject there, with many players and fans open about being members of the LGBT community.
Any homophobic fan watching any of the women’s game on regular basis is certainly knocking at the wrong door.
We all know that kind of interview would not happen in the men’s game. You cannot imagine a Premier League player coming out in support for his boyfriend playing in the Cricket World Cup Final.
There is homophobia and a real intolerance among a vocal minority that will prevent this from happening unless the FA and respective club start dishing out serious punishments.
The FA has a policy against homophobia and transphobia, but I think things should go further. Homophobic fans should be automatically ejected from a game as soon as they make an offensive comment and banned for many, many years.
Such comments have no place in football or in the street. I know it would not be easy to catch all the offenders, especially if a full stand start singing songs, but you can still catch a few offenders. So slap them with a long ban.
If examples are made of those showcasing unacceptable behaviour, it might have a positive effect. A simple slap on the wrist will not help at all. There is also the social media problem that still needs to be eradicated.
There’s a lot of work needed by likes of Facebook and Twitter to take the problem seriously, and unless social media adopt a strong policy instead of hiding behind their freedom of speech rubbish, things will not change.