In Brief

Gay footballers should come out together says FA chief

An announcement could be made at the start of the season, proposes Greg Clarke, after talks with gay sportspeople

Gay Premier League footballers could come out collectively at the start of the new season, FA chairman Greg Clarke has said.

In a "wide-ranging" interview with The Times, Clarke said players could "synchronise" their announcement "so one person doesn't have to come out on their own".

He told the Times he had spoken to more than a dozen gay sportspeople, including footballers, about the situation in recent weeks and believes preparation for any announcement is key. 

By persuading more than one player to come out the controversy would be diluted as they would be "sharing the spotlight", says The Guardian.

"The Premier League, the Football League and the FA could do it at the start of the season," Clarke told the Times. "At the start of the season everybody thinks it is their season, the crowds are happy, the sun is shining. 

"I was asked [recently] if football is ready for top-level pros to come out and I said I'm not sure we were. There was a survey which said people would support gay people in their own team, yes, but I'm worried about what they said about gay people in the other team, not that they would do bad things, but I said we should prepare well."

He also spoke out against the forced outing of players. "I don't want to be part of a process that says, ‘You've got to come out.’ That's not right," he said.

Clarke also suggested that the next England manager after Gareth Southgate could be black. "Why not?" he asked. "It would be wonderful to see a black England manager. It would put us forward 20 years."

Clarke was Football League chairman from 2010 until he took over at the FA in August. In that role he "was instrumental in introducing a version of American football's Rooney Rule to improve the chances of BAME candidates getting interviews," says the Times.

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