Tom Bosworth: Race walker criticises FA over approach to gay players

Tom Bosworth
Tom Bosworth, who finished sixth at the Rio 2016 Olympics, came out in 2015

British race walker Tom Bosworth has criticised the Football Association for wanting "to create a gay day".

FA chairman Greg Clarke told a Commons Select Committee last year that openly gay players may suffer "significant abuse" and has suggested they come out collectivelyexternal-link rather than on their own.

But Bosworth, a high-profile openly gay athlete, revealed he met Clarke and told him his approach must "change".

"He really wants to get on top of it," said the 27-year-old.

Bosworth, who came out in 2015, told BBC Radio 5 live's Friday Sports Panel: "I felt like it was very much that they almost wanted to create a 'gay day' and have a few footballers come out together."

However, he said that "every case is individual", adding: "They might not be in a relationship. There might be no need for them to come out.

"They might be playing in the Premier League but, in the country they come from, it might still be illegal to be gay - so there's no chance of them coming out."

Justin Fashanu, in 1990, was the first professional footballer in England to come out as gay. He took his own life in 1998, aged 37. No male professional player has since come out while playing in England.

Bosworth, who finished sixth at the Rio 2016 Olympics, added that Clarke was "the most important person to have on side" in football's fight against homophobia.

"He is very keen to make a change," Bosworth added.

FA 'remains fully committed'

Speaking at equality charity Stonewall's Rainbow Laces summit in May, Clarke said gay footballers had been "reticent to engage" with him since he started his role at the FA last August.

He added that in nine months of meeting athletes from a range of sports, no footballers had accepted his offer of a private meeting.

In a statement to BBC Sport on Friday, the FA reaffirmed its commitment to tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

"We continue to encourage fans and players to report abuse - both at a national and county FA level - and work with the leagues, LGBT clubs, campaign groups and the statutory agencies to sanction and educate perpetrators.

"Where players, managers and other participants commit abuse, we will deal with it; mandatory education sessions are regularly delivered which raise awareness of the negative impact this abuse has."

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