Hopes of greater equality and representation for gay players in football have been raised after the creation of an organisation of LGBTQ+ professionals in the game.
Twenty founding members have established the LGBTQ+ collective, a group that aims to speak up on issues relevant to the community and create a “safe space” for those wanting to be open about their sexuality or experiencing prejudice in the sport. Individuals involved include Leatherhead’s manager, Luke Tuffs, the Crystal Palace goalkeeper Chloe Morgan and the Women’s Super League referee Stacey Pearson.
The development comes after two active male professionals – Josh Cavallo of Adelaide United and Blackpool’s Jake Daniels – broke generations of silence by coming out over the past eight months.
“This group will offer representation and support not just for people in football but across sport and to anybody old or young who wants someone to talk to,” said Matt Morton, a member of the collective and player-manager of Thetford. “Perhaps it’s someone they’ve seen go through the same experience who they can lean on and ask questions in a safe environment.”
The collective says it hopes to “harness the skills and experiences” of its members not only to provide a place where individuals can find support but “use the power of our collective voice”. Morgan believes its creation adds to a sense of momentum over greater equality for LGBTQ+ people in the game.
“It could have happened before now, it could have happened at any time over the past five years,” he said, “but it would not have been as effective or as poignant. Today there is a feeling of momentum and that we are on a trajectory towards greater inclusion and representation.
“We are moving in a direction where more players will feel confident to come out, but I don’t think we should chase it. Certainly we don’t want the situation where it’s sensationalised. But the game has been more ready for it than some people have suggested and the reaction to Jake coming out has shown that. Most people are supportive when someone makes the choice to embrace their sexuality.”