Ally Answers Your Emails From The Future
Will there ever be an elite footballer come out as gay at the peak of their careers? Today on the blog Ally Moncrief shares with us his vision that our not always so civilized society might not be ready to respond to such an event as we may hope.
Good day to you dear reader, yes it’s that time again, time to take a trip into the future with the sole aim of resolving the burning football issues of the day.
I have in the past been accused of (amongst other things, only some of which are true) not taking this column particularly seriously, now whilst I would refute that allegation in the strongest terms possible (really? Have you read some of the guff you’ve submitted? – Ed), I have decided to cede to public demand and answer a question that demands a considered and mature response. The question in question, so to speak, is quite simply this.
Will there ever be a ‘top level’ gay footballer in the UK, and if so how will the football world react?
An excellent query, in this country we like to think of ourselves as a tolerant bunch, happy to accept other lifestyles and other cultures. A gay footballer would test our self-appointed moral superiority to the limit. In the not too distant past, the notion of an England side made up mainly of black players would have been unthinkable, and only a few years ago if you’d suggested the introduction of female officials in the male game, people would have laughed in your face (our outed themselves as misogynistic cretins a la Keys and Gray). Now however, neither of these events warrants any particular special attention.
So football does have previous when it comes to helping to overcoming prejudice and stereotype, can it do so again? Only one way to find out, I’ll fire up the time machine and see what the future holds. I’ll be back in a bit; you’ll want to hang around for this one.
Okay I’m back, and I know what you’re thinking, I haven’t been away long. Well there’s a perfectly good reason for that. I didn’t have to travel very far to find what I was looking for, only a couple of years in fact. So bear in mind the story I am going to tell involves a current player, one I won’t name but one you all know.
To answer the question posed at the start of this piece, yes there will be an openly gay, top level footballer in this country (and sooner than many of us would have imagined), how will the football world react? Well, put it this way, maybe we aren’t quite as tolerant as we like to make out.
You won’t have to wait long to watch the story unfold, in ‘Ultra High Definition’ before your very eyes so I’ll just give you the edited highlights.
There had been rumours about the player in question for some time, nothing concrete, just hearsay and playground (training ground?) whispers. After a while, what had started as unsubstantiated gossip was now an open secret. The player (quite understandably) had his concerns about being the man to break what some would consider footballs last taboo, the media however, did not share those reservations. Whilst it should be the right of anyone who wishes to, to ‘come out of the closet’ when they’re good and ready, this poor soul was dragged out kicking and screaming, by a ravenous press pack, desperate for a story combining their two most reliable unit shifters, football and sex.
The thing is, at first it looked like everything might be okay; the player (on the advice of his PR team) did some in depth interviews with the broadsheets and the “respectable” tabloids. He explained he just wanted to get on with playing the game he loved, claiming that his form would improve now he was no longer playing under a cloud, free from the fear of exposure.
His club were also very understanding, they promised to do everything they could to support him. His international manager assured him his place was not at risk, and that football ability was the only consideration when it came to selecting his squad.
Of course a few Neanderthals popped up on social media and phone in shows, creatures who for reasons known only to themselves, feel the presence of a homosexual man in a football side tears at the very fabric of the universe itself. As always though, it’s best to ignore those sorts and trust that the process of evolution will eventually eradicate them from the gene pool.
The homophobes whilst undoubtedly present, were just a noisy minority, and in general the reaction was positive, it was understanding, and it was sadly not to last.
Whilst initially the public lapped up the ‘gay star bravely tells all’ narrative, they soon, as they always do, grew bored of it. The newspapers were desperate for a new angle, desperate to keep the story in the public eye, desperate to milk this cash cow for all it was worth.
They started to hound him, they camped outside his house, they camped outside his parents’ house, they published kiss and tell stories under headlines such as ‘My Gay Romp With England Star’ and ‘A Lion On The Pitch, A Tiger In The Bedroom’. The pressure and the attention was relentless, the glare of the media spotlight was blinding. Unsurprisingly, events off the pitch began to have a ruinous effect on his performance on it.
The thing about this player is he is (well was) a star for club and country, a truly world class talent, and although it sounds simplistic, while he was playing well, scoring goals and leading his sides charge up the table, the fans of his team couldn’t care less who he was sleeping with, he could have been having it off with members of their immediate family for all they cared, as long he was ‘producing the goods’ on a Saturday. When his form quite naturally dipped however, it was a different story.
All of a sudden the chants grew more offensive; they increased in volume and in frequency, people who should have known better, began to question if ‘gays’ were suited to life as footballers. As the abuse got worse, the players form followed a similar downward trajectory, swiftly creating a vicious circle. It wasn’t long before he was left out the team, citing a variety of ‘undisclosed injuries’. Those same injuries kept him out of the national squad. When it came time to renew his contract a deal could not be struck. Despite being valued at £60million mere months previously, he was released.
When I left to return to the present he was trying to kick-start his career in Europe, in the second tier of a league and nation more tolerant than ours. I wish him all the best.
Next month will have more LOLs I promise.
I’m on twitter where every now and again I say something funny.