Fashanu's foundation has supported both Premier League players who have anonymously said they are gay
22 September 2020

Amal Fashanu on a second Premier League footballer revealing he is gay in an open letter and what a huge step it is for the game

Amal Fashanu says a second Premier League footballer penning an open letter to say that he is gay is a big step towards her dream of a player feeling comfortable to come out publicly.

She said ‘it just means everything’ as players are beginning to talk about their sexuality and she now hopes the two will meet up to help and support each other.

Campaigner Fashanu, who set up the Justin Fashanu Foundation in memory of her uncle Justin, the only male footballer to come out while still playing, told NewsChain: "This is amazing because it just shows after the reaction of the first player there is someone else who is brave enough to step forward. 

"I do want to say a lot of people say 'no one cares, like who cares about this?' but the problem is we all must care about it considering there isn't an openly gay professional player in the Premier League currently. 

"So when people are saying 'it's irrelevant, no one cares, we're in 2020' that's the whole reason my foundation exists because we do still care. 

"So this second letter just means everything because it’s kind of like they are slowly getting to the point where they’re [footballers] like we are going to have to communicate in some way and it’s better than nothing. 

"As far as I'm concerned, for now, these letters just mean to our foundation that we are going in the right direction and that we know what we’re doing.

“For them to trust us means a lot because obviously affectively I am doing my job well and they trust us.”

The foundation has supported both players, who have both written anonymous letters. The first was made public in July, with Fashanu telling NewsChain at the time it was an ‘important day’, and the second was reported this week.

It is the reaction Fashanu was hoping for and she will try to bring them together.

She said: "If they accept [and want to speak to each other], I think that's a big step in their mental health as well as time goes by. They will have another shoulder to cry on in a way and a person who they can get feedback from and talk to. Sometimes you only need that one person to talk to and it can change your life.

“So I do feel like if I introduce them and they feel they do need help at some point that it will be positive for both of them and they can support each other which is a big thing.”

Justin Fashanu, Amal's uncle, was the first footballer in England to come out as gay (PA Archive)

In the latest player’s letter, which was seen by The Sun, he says at the moment ‘the powers’ in football are only paying ‘lip service’ to the issue rather than creating an environment to help players come out.

He wrote: "It’s so sad for me to say this, but even though society has moved on massively since I was a teenager the game simply hasn’t.

“Those running it need to put more measures in place so that gay players know they will get the support they need. Right now the powers that be are only playing lip service to the issue.”

Fashanu has said these letters are adding pressure to governing bodies to put things in place for these footballers.

"We hope that if a player was to come out that would kickstart a whole chain of things and measures [to be] put in place to try and avoid the continuous harassment that they may suffer. 

“I think if this starts happening and we talk about it more and people start coming forward, I just think the governing bodies will hopefully put things in place that potentially aren't there right now.”

And while governing bodies need to play their part, she added she believes the next step in allowing players to feel comfortable to come out publicly is laying out a roadmap of the public reaction so they do not have a ‘fear of the unknown’.

“I think it's about making people feel comfortable enough to come out. The more we talk about things, the more awareness and education and articles come out and the reaction, I think everyone feels more comfortable,” she said.

"If they were to come out they can kind of predict the reaction a bit more, so they wouldn’t fear it that much. They would understand and know. I think it’s just for the foundation to create a roadmap that would help these footballers see what it would be like if they were to come out which is very important.  

“For them that’s another worry, you don’t know what’s going to happen, so when you don’t know what’s going to happen you fear, it's the fear of the unknown.”

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