Team players

Football chairman wants closeted players to come out together as a group

It sounds like the setup to a naughty movie, but it’s actually the goal of the chairman of the Football Association in England. Greg Clarke says he wants a whole bunch of “football” (what we call soccer, just to be difficult) players to to all come out of the closet at once this year.

It’s actually a really nice idea. It would mean that everyone would have a lot of support and help, and that fans would see just how many of their favorite players are queer. It would be particularly meaningful to LGBT fans.

Clarke was hesitant about recommending that players come out individually, because he is concerned about harassment in the organization that he runs. That’s kind of awful, but good for him for acknowledging a problem.

So what is he doing about it? Actually, a lot: he’s meeting with queer sports figures in private, and talking to players about what they want. (Nobody’s going to be forcibly outed.)

He’s also putting effort into welcoming black people into leadership roles — football/soccer teams have lagged somewhat in this area. Manager roles have historically disproportionately imbalanced along racial lines.

So for those of us capable of following along with British athletics, it’s an exciting time! It doesn’t make sense that players and managers wouldn’t reflect their fans, so changes like those Clarke is describing have been a long time coming.