Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive
“We are proud of our work to date in this important area but we know that there is much more that can be done. The EFL is pleased to support the upcoming Come Out 2 Play initiative, in order to help raise awareness, whilst also promoting the values of the game and ensuring football provides everyone with a safe and welcoming environment.”
Andy West, Outnews Editor at Large
“When I was a little boy I needed heroes. In fact, I still do. Any footballer who chooses to come out will be just that.”
David Haigh, ex Managing Director of Leeds United and Chairman of Leeds Ladies.
“Whilst managing director of Leeds United, Leeds made great strides in promoting equality and in supporting gay players and staff on & off the pitch. In 2013 the club was the first club to become a Stonewall diversity champion and on the same day that we welcomed Stonewall former Leeds and LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers came to talk about coming out as a player. The ever-amazing Leeds fans welcomed Robbie back to Elland Road with a standing ovation of 30,000. It is one of those days that I will never forget. On that day, almost 4 years ago to this day I saw an ocean of support & respect for gay players. 4 years on we are yet to see any male premier and championship players come out, I would love to see that change and for it never to be an issue in future that needs campaigns or slogans.
Having spoken to many gay and bi players over the years, the reason for staying silent often appears to be one of fear. We need to remove that sense of fear in the footballer’s hearts when they consider coming out. We need them to know there is nothing to be fearful about. That’s why I teamed up with the ever-amazing Linda and Andy for Coming Out To Play.”
Linda Riley, Publisher of DIVA Magazine
“I’m proud to be launching this campaign with Andy and David. Nobody should feel unable to be who they are out of fear of ridicule or abuse. I offer my full backing to all those professional footballers who currently feel unable to come out and are torn between being true to themselves or silencing a small but vocal minority. I hope that this campaign helps to create an environment where gay or bisexual footballers can be out and proud so that the overwhelming majority of true football fans can demonstrate their full support from the stands and beyond.”
John Nicolson, presenter and politician
“No one cares whether football stars are straight or gay. And coming out as gay is a matter of individual choice. But there’s clearly something wrong in the world of football since not a single top flight player in the UK feels able to come out. That has to change. I proposed the House of Commons Homophobia in Sport Enquiry. The evidence given to MPs showed that when gay athletes come out they feel better, their performance improves, and their sponsorship tends to increase. It’s time for the soccer pitch to become a safe place for gay players. It’s time football catches up with society.“
Jeremy Joseph, founder G.A.Y
“I’ve always been so lucky to work in jobs where I could always be Out, I couldn’t imagine having to work in an environment where I couldn’t truly be me, it seems odd nearly in 2018 & not everyone has the freedom to be out, if a gay footballer comes out, it will open the door to so many other sports & other footballers & supporters, my fingers are crossed is that the 1st Out Premier Football player is from Arsenal, as that’s the team I grew up with & the team I support, I want a gay gunner”
James Frost, CEO of Gay Times
“We’re proud to join fans and players within the football community in lending our unwavering support to the #ComeOut2Play campaign.
“Gay Times is proud to be part of this initiative which, we hope, will continue a push in ensuring all LGBTQ players feel part of the game, both on and off the pitch.
“It’s time to make the world’s most beautiful game an inclusive sport for everybody.”
“As a gay dad to a football-mad little boy, I want him to grow up in a footballing environment where his sexuality or that of his teammates isn’t an issue and where sportsman and woman are judged on their performance on the pitch – not off it. I’m proud to add my name in support of the #ComeOut2Play campaign”
John Bishop, Comedian
“Football is the people’s game – all the people. I would happily support any player who felt compelled to come out as a gay. Football is ‘the beautiful game’ and should be enjoyed by everyone without fear or recrimination.”
Ryan Atkin, the first openly gay professional football referee
“Within men’s football particularly, it’s still considered taboo by many to discuss homosexuality, while those involved in the sport often don’t feel comfortable speaking up and challenging homophobia. I am proud to support the #ComeOut2Play campaign. Football has an obligation to ensure that it reflects and respects the diversity of its players, fans, administrators -whoever.”
“Bullying UK, part of Family Lives, is proud to support this important campaign #Comeout2play as we believe that everyone should be able to be who they want to be, without being judged, ridiculed or bullied. We support the European Diversity Awards in every part of this important campaign.”
Lianne Sanderson, professional footballer.
“ This is a fantastic way to show any players that feel that they don’t have a protected or supportive environment to be themselves in or feel scared. You are not alone and I will do everything I can to support an help those players that feel apprehensive about this. When people ask and say it shouldn’t affect a players game. You ask somebody that has kept their personal life a secret for years and years and years. How much of a huge weight off of their shoulders when they are finally able to be themselves. Making up stories of how your weekend was or who you spent it with becomes draining and tiring. It’s not an easy process and that’s why things like the Thunderclap are fantastic to show they are not alone.
I support you and this 100%.”