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Unfortunately, not everybody has seen it this way, with some United supporters greeting the news as if Elton John and Paul O’Grady will be lining up in the centre of midfield. The rainbow colour scheme seemingly an affront to the average supporter. An example of the leftist establishment chipping away at the last remaining pillars of football culture. Political correctness going mad and flooding the game with problems where there previously were none.

For something which will have absolutely no effect on anybody’s enjoyment of the game itself, the impact off the pitch could be huge.

Those who do decide to come out often wait until they have retired from the sport; even then the path remains treacherous. Justin Fashanu lived out his ordeal in the public eye before suicide cut his life tragically short. Robbie Rodgers described how coming to terms with his sexuality also meant surrendering his football career. Former West Ham United midfielder Thomas Hitzelsperger came out following a series of injuries which forced him to retire from the game. Met by an avalanche of media attention, much of it hugely supportive, his case also highlighted why elite level professionals would be reluctant to come out as gay while still playing.

Football and homosexuality continue to have an uneasy relationship. It’s astonishing that there remain no openly gay footballers in the entire English Football League.

While Hitzelsperger is optimistic about the prospects of it happening soon, there is an acknowledgement that the media circus will be huge

It’s a flag.

and the response from the stands entirely unknowable. Much of the footballing discourse subtly hostile toward homosexuality that it barely even registers.There is a tacit understanding that derogatory language aimed at gay people is acceptable in a way that racist words and phrases are not. Being called a puff by one mouthy away fan may not matter in isolation but when extrapolated across a stadium it is understandable that gay players have found this daunting.

Those who do decide to come out often wait until they have retired from the sport; even then the path remains treacherous

This isn’t to say that all football fans are nasty bigots. The game in England is generally played in a welcoming atmosphere and has often set an example for others to follow. Germany, Hitzelsperger’s country of birth, is similarly struggling to adapt. Mario Gomez breaking rank from the German Football tf 39

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Newcastle United back in the Premier League with Rafa Benitez serenely assembling his squad for the new challenges and receiving every possi...