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IS FOOTBALL STILL HOMOPHOBIC?

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Following the second retirement of Robbie Rogers from football, it got us thinking, why aren’t there more openly gay footballers out there? So I thought I’d investigate further. Robbie Rogers first retired two weeks after being released by Leeds United in February 2013, aged 25. Two weeks later he announced on his blog that he was gay. This made him the first openly gay footballer in the UK since Justin Fashanu.

Rogers wrote, “I’m a soccer player, I’m Christian, and I’m gay. Those are things that people might say wouldn’t go well together. But my family raised me to be an individual and to stand up for what I believe in.”

Rogers later stated he retired to avoid the media speculation regarding his sexuality and the scrutiny of the fans. His retirement lasted two months and he returned in April 2013 to play for LA Galaxy. He made his decision after speaking in front of a crowd of 500 at an LGBT youth event in Portland, Oregon, during which he “seriously felt like a coward”. Rogers told USA TODAY Sports, “These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I’m 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?”

In 1967, homosexuality in the United Kingdom was decriminalised, leading to a more liberal public attitude. There are lots of openly gay politicians and entertainers who remained elected and popular with little or no criticism or comment on their sexuality.

However, there has been a distinct lack of openly gay men in football. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, rumours in the press or joking between fans and players and even hostile homophobic abuse, have been common within the game.

The most famous gay footballer is Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Notts County and Brighton and Hove Albion. Fashanu agreed to come out in The Sun as an exclusive story in October 1990, they ran the classy headline “£1M Footballer: I Am Gay”. In the article he claimed to have had an affair with a British MP. The Sun dragged out the tale with titillating stories of sexual encounters with unnamed MPs, football players and pop stars, which, he claims, were largely untrue.

Not only did Justin Fashanu receive vile chants from visiting fans regarding his race he was also now getting abuse about his sexuality.

In March 1998, Maryland, USA, a 17-year-old lad claimed he had been sexually assaulted after a night of drinking. Homosexual acts were illegal in Maryland at this time and the boy claimed he awoke to a sexual act being performed on him without his permission. Fashanu then fled to England before he could be arrested. On the morning of 3rd May 1998, Justin Fashanu was found hanged in a deserted lock up garage in Shoreditch, London. In his suicide note, he denied the charges, stating that the sex was consensual, and that he had fled to England because he felt he could not get a fair trial because of his homosexuality, and he added: “I realised that I had already been presumed guilty. I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family.”

Other footballers have come out as gay after retirement, perhaps the most renown being Thomas Hitzlsperger, who played in the premiership for Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton.

In other sports within the UK people are ‘coming out’ all the time, like Tom Daley (diver) Nicola Adams (boxer), Gareth Thomas (rugby player), Keegan Hirst (rugby player), Steven Davies (cricket), Casey Stoney (women’s football), Clare Balding (jockey/presenter) and Joh Amaechi (NBA- Orlando Magic).

In international sport there is Martina Navaratilova (tennis), Ian Thorpe (swimming), Liz Carmouche (MMA), Michael Sam (NFL- Dallas Cowboys), Jason Collins (NBA- New Jersey Nets), Ryan O’ Callaghan (NFL- Kansa City Chiefs) and Abby Wambach (Football).

Football has to be one of the most popular spectator sports, so is it easier to come out in sports that are less popular? In America there are a few NFL and NBA stars that have come out as gay. In fact, Jason Collins sought advice from Robbie Rogers on how to come out to the sporting world.

Is it down to Justin Fashanu’s experiences that other footballers have felt the need to hide their sexuality? Is the fear of being chanted at by rival fans? Or the fear of fake stories appearing in the press? Whatever it is, surely in these times, if a footballer is gay, most fans can see passed the sexuality? Could it even be lucrative for a Premier League footballer to come out as gay, surely lots of companies would be queuing up to use them in endorsements?

Paul Pogba recently said that openly gay footballers WOULD receive respect in the Premier League. Apparently, players are in the know who is gay and who is not. Surely if one person comes out then others will follow in support? One thing is for sure, a person’s sexuality doesn’t change them as a person and certainly doesn’t alter their ability to play football. Maybe in the next couple of years footballers will have no fear about coming out as gay. The FA has identified Football v Homophobia as its chosen campaign, partnering with the Justin campaign, to educate widely on homophobia.

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Video | Neymar showered in fake €500 notes embossed with his crying face

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Bayern Munich fans have never been ones to shied away from criticism’s of UEFA and the heavy corporate influences within the game.  This week the worlds most expensive player was in town, and the supporters front line weren’t about to miss an opportunity to poke him with corporate stick, and they didn’t disappoint.

As the Brazilian striker made his way over to take a corner in the first half, Bayern supporters in the front row showered him in fake €500 notes complete with a custom image of Neymar’s face in tears.

Image: Fox Sports (via Yahoo)

Bayern fans also to aim at UEFA by unveiled a banners reading: “Throwing fake money is charged, but exploiting our football is fine?”

The banner was in response to UEFA’s recent charge of the Bundesliga champions after fans previously threw fake cash on the field in protest against the €100 ticket prices charged for the clash with Anderlecht in Belgium last month.

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England’s World Cup Opponents | What’s in store?

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Belgium, Tunisia and Panama: England’s World Cup Opponents Reviewed
With the World Cup draw having been made, England fans will be relatively happy with the group they have been given. The pot one heavyweights in the form of Argentina, Brazil, France and Germany were all avoided, whilst Tunisia are one of the weakest teams in pot three. World Cup debutants Panama are another side the majority of teams would have been happy to face. Here we review all three of England’s opponents ahead of football’s greatest showpiece kicking off in Russia next summer.

Belgium


Belgium will be by far the most familiar of England’s opponents. The majority of The Red Devils’ squad play or have played in England’s top flight with 21 of the 34 players to have appeared in Belgium squads since September having Premier League experience. In addition, Mats Sels played for Newcastle in the Championship last season whilst Thorgan Hazard was on Chelsea’s books despite not making a single appearance for them.


In terms of key players, Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the pick of the bunch with many regarding him the Premier League’s best player this season. Chelsea duo Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and Tottenham defenders Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld will also be high-quality opposition for Kane, Alli and co. to test themselves against.
Outside the Premier League, PSG defender Thomas Meunier, Roma’s Radja Nainggolan and Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco are all big players, but arguably the most dangerous threat will come from Napoli’s Dries Mertens who has ten Serie A goals already this season.
In recent years, the so-called “golden generation” has not yet lived up to expectations. In 2014 they reached the World Cup, their first major tournament in 14 years. After one-goal victories against Algeria, Russia and South Korea in the group stages, they beat the USA 2-1 after extra time in the last 16. Their run was halted by Argentina in the quarter finals when an early Gonzalo Higuain goal gave the South American giants a 1-0 victory.


It was Euro 2016 however in which they really disappointed. Despite losing 2-0 to Italy in their opening group match, 3-0 and 1-0 wins over Republic of Ireland and Sweden respectively were enough to see them progress to the knockout rounds as group E runners-up. A 4-0 win over Hungary set up a quarter final match with Wales and when Radja Nainggolan’s long distance strike gave Marc Wilmots’ side an early lead, hopes were high of a semi-final clash with Portugal. But Wales came back to claim a shock 3-1 victory which knocked Belgium out.
Wilmots was sacked after this result and replaced with another name familiar to Premier League fans in the form of Roberto Martinez. The ex-Swansea, Wigan and Everton boss led Belgium to become the first European team to qualify for Russia 2018. Only a 1-1 draw with Greece denied them a 100% qualifying record in a campaign which saw 6-0 and 9-0 wins over Gibraltar and an 8-1 victory over Estonia. This helped secure their status (joint with Germany) as the highest-scoring team in the history of a single World Cup qualifying campaign with 43 goals.
Belgium are currently sixth-favourites to lift the trophy in July ahead of former winners England and Uruguay, and European Championship holders Portugal. England have played them 21 times picking up 15 victories and just a solitary defeat which came back in 1936.

Tunisia

©Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The other two teams in Group G will be a lot less familiar to England fans.
Tunisia are making their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals having failed to progress beyond the group stages in all four of their previous campaigns, most recently in 2006. They began their campaign in the second round of African qualifiers with a 4-2 aggregate victory over Mauritania before topping a group including Guinea, Libya and closest rivals Congo DR in the third round. A 0-0 draw at home to Libya in the final group game was enough to book their ticket to Russia despite Congo DR defeating Guinea 3-1.


The Premier League has seen five Tunisian players in its history. The first to arrive was defender Radhi Jaidi. Jaidi played for Esperance Sportive de Tunis, Tunisia’s most successful club before joining Bolton Wanderers in July 2004. He then went on to play for Birmingham before joining League One Southampton in 2009. The ex-national team captain is now coaching the Saints’ U23 team. He played at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and was a part of Tunisia’s African Cup of Nations-winning side in 2004. Birmingham signed Mehdi Nafti just a few months after Jaidi’s arrival in England.

Nafti now manages Merida in the Spanish third division. Hatem Trabelsi had a brief spell at Manchester City in the 2006/07 season before Yohan Benalouane signed for Leicester in 2015. The defender played in four games during Leicester’s title-winning 2015/16 season but missed out on a winners’ medal as a minimum of five appearances were required. Wahbi Khazri makes up the Premier Leagues’ Tunisian contingent having joined Sunderland in January 2016. His highlight in the North-East was a goal and assist in a 2-1 victory over Manchester United. He now plays on loan for Rennes in the French Ligue 1.

Tunisia’s biggest-name player at the moment is defender Aymen Abdennour who currently plays for Marseille on loan from Valencia. Abdennour was once a reported Chelsea target and Watford were said to be interested in signing him this summer before he returned to France where he had previously played with Toulouse and Monaco. Another key player is captain Aymen Mathlouthi. The goalkeeper has spent his entire career in Tunisia. He has spent fourteen years at Etoile du Sahel and won the CAF Champions League in 2007. Mathlouthi is known as a ball-playing goalkeeper and lifted the African Nations Championship (not to be confused with the African Cup of Nations) in 2011. Other names that may be familiar to avid fans of European football are Ligue 1 trio Oussama Haddadi, Naim Sliti (both Dijon) and Nice youngster Bassem Srarfi. Doncaster Rovers fans will be familiar with midfielder Issam Ben Khemis, although with just one cap to his name (in October 2016), he looks likely to miss out on a trip to Russia.
Nabil Maaloul is the Tunisia head coach. He played in Europe briefly for German side Hannover and is currently in his fifth spell as either Tunisia manager or assistant manager (including managing the Olympic side in 2004). He had a three-year spell as Kuwait boss before returning to the Carthage Eagles in April 2017, just in time to mastermind his nation’s progression to the World Cup finals.
In two appearances against Tunisia, England are unbeaten. They drew 1-1 in a 1990 friendly before winning 2-0 in the 1998 World Cup group stages.

Panama


If England fans are unfamiliar with Tunisia, then Panama are even more of an unknown quantity. The Central American side began their campaign in the fourth round of qualifiers for teams in CONCACAF, the equivalent of UEFA for teams in North and Central America (plus Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana). They finished second in a group featuring Haiti, Jamaica and group winners Costa Rica to progress to the fifth and final qualifying round.
In the fifth round they had to finish in the top three to qualify for the World Cup or fourth to enter into a play-off. After nine of the ten games had been played they found themselves fourth with Mexico and Costa Rica having already qualified and Trinidad and Tobago knocked out. After 87 minutes of their final match with Costa Rica, they were level at 1-1 but heading out with Honduras and the USA both above them. Having gone 1-0 down, a controversial equaliser was given to Gabriel Torres despite having not crossed the line. On 88 minutes, defender Roman Torres wrote his name into Panamanian history when he smashed the winner past goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton sending his country into third place and booking a ticket to Russia.
Five of the Panama team called up for recent friendlies against Wales and Iran currently ply their trade in Europe. Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, who has 128 caps, plays in Romania with Dinamo Bucuresti. Defender Erick Davis is at Slovakian top flight side Dunajska Streda. Midfielder Ricardo Avila is with the reserves of Belgian side KAA Gent. Attacker Ismael Diaz is in the Spanish third tier with Deportivo Fabril, the reserve side of Deportivo la Coruna, whilst Gabriel Torres, a former Manchester United trialist, is in Switzerland with Lausanne-Sport. Panama’s top scorers with 43 goals are Peru-based Luis Tejada and Blas Perez of Guatemalan side Municipal.
Head coach Hernan Dario Gomez is one Panamanian who has faced England before at a World Cup. He was manager of the Columbia side that finished third in their group at France 1998, behind second-placed England, but ahead of Tunisia. He also took Ecuador to the tournament in Japan and South Korea back in 2002.


The June 24th clash in Novgorod will be the first time England have ever played Panama.
Whilst defeat to Belgium would not be a disaster (assuming things have gone to plan in the other two games), losing to Tunisia would be a massive blow, whilst picking up no points against Panama would prove to be a disaster of Icelandic proportions. San Marino have managed to dispel the old cliché “there are no easy games in football”, but truly poor teams do not qualify for World Cups meaning Gareth Southgate’s side will have to stay professional to ensure there are no early upsets. A top two finish will set up a last 16 tie against Poland, Japan, Colombia or Senegal. The minimum that should be expected from this tournament.

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Video | The Sunderland Sh*tter caught in the act.

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Poogate. What actually happened?

A video has surfaced of the Sunderland fan reported to have dropped his trousers and have a poo under his seat during Sunderlands game against Reading The young supporter was kicked out of the Stadium of Shite, sorry Light, after supporters parted like the Red Sea in order to order to avoid the sight and smell of their fellow supporter’s bum truffles nestling under his seat.

The story first broke on Saturday night as an onlooker posted this image, accompanied by an explanation of what was going down.

 

 

The fan wrote.

“100% Happened. Kid was two rows back from me. He was absolutely blitzed, may well have had more than just booze looking at his eyes. He was in a bad way a few games ago as well, sleep in his seat.

Today he dropped his pants to his ankles, squatted and curled one out. Everyone around him parted. he pulled his pants back up and just stood there totally spaced out! Then the coppers came up and took him away. A bairn in the row in front saw the shit and started gagging before spewing into our row!”

On top of watching their side crash to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Reading, fans sitting close by were left “gagging” as the young lad, seemingly without a care in the world, just sat there and continued to watch the game, which the video seems to confirm.

Another fan got in touch to tell us “It’s the second game in a row he’s been spaced out and arrested, last week he fell asleep during the game and was falling all over the place. He was a right mess. A young child near us started being sick, and there was a few full grown men that weren’t far away from doing the same.”

By the sounds of it, this lad had had more than a few sherbets, and I’d be very surprised if he was back next week. Even if he didn’t have his ticket taken away, you’d have to have some stones to return after causing so much uproar.

Certainly won’t be welcomed back with open arms.

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