Football has made progress but still has a long way to go to support LGBTQ+ representation according to panel discussion
London, 3 August 2022 – The Hogan Lovells Pride network, in partnership with sports publication The Athletic, recently held a live Q&A event with football professionals to discuss how to make the game a safer place for the LGBTQ+ community.
The panel shared their thoughts on how inclusive football is for LGBTQ+ people, potential “rainbow washing” and what the future holds for diversity and inclusion in the sport. The discussion was facilitated by Hogan Lovells partner Elaine Penrose and included guest panellists Alex Kay-Jelski, Editor-in-Chief of The Athletic; Nancy Frostick, football writer at The Athletic; Chloe Morgan, professional footballer; and Matt Neil, Salford City FC analyst.
The speakers shared different perspectives on how inclusive the football community is currently. Matt Neil, Salford City FC analyst, commented on the importance of public perception and support from football fans: “The dressing room is probably one of the safest spaces for men in the LGBTQ+ community, however unfortunately the issue often tends to come from the fans in the stands”. Footballer Chloe Morgan offered a different perspective: “Being from the LGBTQ+ community isn’t as taboo for women in the sport.”
The role and responsibility of the media was noted with an acknowledgement that although publications are very receptive to covering stories on players coming out, unfortunately some media continue to cover salacious LGBTQ+ stories to attract clicks.
The consensus was that the football community has generally been supportive of its LBGTQ+ members, however the panel challenged clubs and football organisations to do more moving forward. Chloe Morgan said: “Football clubs supporting the LGBTQ+ community provides a great spotlight, however we only see a high level of support during PRIDE month. It would be great to do more all year round”.
Nancy Frostick, football writer at The Athletic, also raised the importance of football clubs taking a stand in challenging situations. “I would like football clubs being willing to take a hit financially when it is difficult to support their LGBTQ+ members”, said Nancy.
The panel rounded up their conversation by discussing what an ideal world would look like for LGBTQ+ representation in the football community. Matt Neil mentioned the importance of having more role models across various professions in the football community. Alex Kay-Jelski mentioned the progress other nations need to make in order to make the sport more inclusive for their LGBTQ+ members. “In an ideal world it would great if footballing bodies and organisations in other countries were more progressive and inclusive”, said Alex.
Elaine Penrose, partner at Hogan Lovells, commented: “There is clearly a long way to go for LGBTQ+ representation in football, however progress is being made and we are delighted to help facilitate these discussions alongside The Athletic.”