Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has spoken out against homophobia in football.
Ramsdale’s brother is part of the LGBTQ community and in a statement, the 25-year-old said he wants football to be “a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”
Giving a statement to Sky News, he said he was tired of hearing homophobic chanting and has “probably bit my tongue too many times” when hearing abuse. He said he wanted his brother, Ollie, “or anyone of any sexuality, race or religion – to come to games without having to fear abuse.”
His statement went: “Over the years, I’ve probably bit my tongue a few too many times – both in dressing rooms and on social media – whenever I hear homophobic comments or stupid things being said. And I think maybe my brother has done the same, thinking it would make my life easier.
“Well, all that ends today. As a keeper, I’ve heard it all. You can say almost anything about me, and I’ll have a laugh. I might even turn around and say something right back to you. But when it crosses a certain line into homophobia or hate, it’s simply wrong.”
“I can already hear the comments. “Oh shut up, Ramsdale. Stick to football, lad.” But this is about football. Football is for everyone. If you disagree, maybe you’re the one who needs to shut up and look in the mirror.
“I want this game to be a safe and welcoming place for everyone… And when we lift a trophy at the Emirates Stadium, I want my brother there with me. What could the trolls tell us then? Not a thing.”
The issue of homophobia in football has been a long-standing one. Homophobic chanting is technically illegal in stadiums, but there are challenges around policing it. Earlier this year one Chelsea fan was given a three-year ban for admitting a public order offence relating to chanting.
Ramsdale has also spoken out in support of the challenges black players face from online trolls, and about the mental health repercussions of playing following his wife’s miscarriage, in a wide-ranging and frank interview with The Player’s Tribune.
Jake Daniels became the first active player to come out as gay in May 2022. Also speaking to Sky News, he said: “For a long time I’ve thought I would have to hide my truth because I wanted to be, and now I am, a professional footballer. I asked myself if I should wait until I’ve retired to come out. No other player in the professional game here is out.
“However, I knew that would lead to a long time of lying and not being able to be myself or lead the life that I want to.
“Since I’ve come out to my family, my club and my team-mates, that period of overthinking everything and the stress it created has gone. It was impacting my mental heath. Now I am just confident and happy to be myself finally.”
In line with Daniels’ statement, many sports psychologists have said that, as well as promoting a positive images of homosexuality for fans of the game, players being publically out would likely allow them to play better football, too.