Changing Attitudes: Manchester’s LGF hail West Ham’s Matt Jarvis for posing on cover of leading gay magazine

By Oliver Pritchard

West Ham ace Matt Jarvis is aiming to change homophobic attitudes in football by posing on the front cover of Attitude magazine and Manchester’s Lesbian and Gay Foundation are supporting his appearance.

The married father-of-two becomes the third footballer to appear on the front cover of the magazine after David Beckham in 2002 and Freddie Ljungberg in 2006.

In an interview with the magazine, Jarvis, 26, said that homosexuality was now in everyday life and not something that’s going to be a shock.

Indeed this view is supported by a study released by the University of Staffordshire which revealed the majority of football fans would not object to openly gay footballers and 40% blame clubs and agents for keeping gay players in the closet.

Jarvis said in an interview with the magazine: “There’d be support everywhere within the football community, whether it be players, fans or within the PFA [Professional Footballers’ Association].

 “There would definitely be groups of people who would be supportive and help them through it.”

However, there is the notable case of Justin Fashanu – the first £1million black footballer  – who suffered extensive abuse after coming out in 1990.

He killed himself eight years later and his inquest said that the prejudices he faced on the pitch were a contributing factor to his suicide.

Andrew Gilliver, of Manchester Lesbian and Gay Foundation hailed the significance Jarvis’ appearance on the cover of the magazine.

He said it is crucial that heterosexual players stand up against homophobia and support their teammates, some of whom may be worried about coming out.

He added: “Football is way behind when it comes to tackling homophobia and although there are some great initiatives out there it really is time that they receive a higher profile.

“In the same way as challenging racism in the game and on the terraces does and rightly so.

“There has to be an absolute zero tolerance on homophobia across the game and a concerted effort to support causes that are trying to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”

The percentages speak for themselves, there are an estimated 25,000 professional footballers in Europe and currently only one of them is openly gay – Anton Hysen a player in the Swedish lower leagues.

Mr Gilliver said he believes that the lack of support from the media and FA combined with football agents and managers who advise players that such a move would be commercial suicide.

He added: “You really do need incredibly strong support networks and an absolute steely determination to take on homophobia on such a big scale.”

Picture courtesy of Attitude magazine, with thanks

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