Top stars shun gay awareness campaign
Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has defended the game's top players after reports that none were prepared to appear in a video campaign against homophobia.
The PFA was hopeful that some of the Premier League's stars would put their names and faces forward to support the campaign. But the Independent claims that the PFA have been unable to persuade anyone to take part.
The newspaper reports that players feared being ridiculed by both opposition players and supporters for appearing in the video, and being subjected to taunts and chants.
The Football Association eventually produced a generic "viral" anti-homophobic video at the start of this week but now that has been pulled pending a full review of the entire campaign.
Taylor defended his members, telling the newspaper: "Everybody assumes footballers are full of confidence, but it is not easy on issues like this. Remember there was a time when even black players did not feel they could talk about race."
He added on the PFA's website: "The PFA are proud of our work in the field of anti-racism demonstrating that in football we are all united regardless of race, colour or creed.
"The English game is a beacon of diversity with players from many backgrounds, countries and continents demonstrating their skills on the field of play. It is unacceptable for them to be subjected to abusive chanting be it racist or homophobic whilst they play.
"It is vital that we continue to work towards eradicating all forms of discrimination including homophobia. I applaud the ongoing work in this area.''
Peter Clayton, chair of the FA's Homophobia in Football advisory group and the FA's only openly gay councillor, had sympathy with the players' point of view. "I suspect agents and clubs shied away from it," he said. "A player coming forward to appear in it would feel he might ignite more vitriol."