Barkham gives the example of Liverpool player Justin Fashanu who in nineteen ninety stunned the world by becoming the first football player to come out of the closet and openly declare that he was gay. Fashanu was shunned by the entire world of football, which included not only the manager of his team but also his teammates, the fans as well as his family. Due to this lack of support even from those people who he would have expected it from such as his brother, John, Fashanu’s career started going on a downward spiral which would eventually result in his taking his own life eight years later. It is a very interesting thing to note that despite the fact that almost all other parts of the entertainment industry have gay people playing prominent roles in them. Moreover, in football, the idea of gay players seems to be taboo and that players who have dared come out of the closet have received vicious taunts and abuse from the fans (Barkham 2011, p.15). Barkham’s article focuses specifically on Anton Hysen, a Swedish football player who is the twenty-year-old son of former Liverpool defender and Swedish international, Glenn Hysen. For a person who is just at the beginning of his football career, Anton has done a very bold thing by coming out of the closet and declaring that he is gay. This is something that many other gay players would not dare to do in consideration of the potential of ruining their chances of keeping their careers going. Anton states that he has his family and the liberal nature of many Swedes to thank for the support he has received since he revealed his sexual orientation to the world, and opposed to the treatment that Fashanu received. Anton has received and maintained the support and goodwill of his family and the fans of the team for which he plays. Perhaps his retention of the support of the team’s fans is based mainly on the fact that it is still a small team and if he were playing for the big leagues of Sweden, then he would be more exposed to the abuse directed at him due to his sexual orientation. It can be noted that Anton’s self-confidence as well as not taking personally the abuse that has been leveled at him on occasion is what keeps him going and it is quite possible that when he goes to the big leagues, he will achieve great success in spite of the negative reception that he is likely to receive. In this article, Barkham engages the reader by getting directly to the point and stating that the subject of his article (Anton Hysen) is gay and further gives the example of Justin Fashanu as a comparison. He then reveals the prominent background of Anton’s family in the football world by introducing his father, Glenn, and brother, Tobias. Having done this, he then discusses with Anton how the football fans in Sweden as well as his teammates have received him. This article can be said to be very bold because it discusses a topic, which is very rarely discussed by those who are involved in football. There is so much disgrace involved around this issue that many players either choose to keep their gay sexual orientation secret or do not come out in support of their gay colleagues. Barkham’s article can also be said to be very revealing because it not only deals with a taboo subject, but it also shows the extent of homophobia within the football profession. It is a
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Football’s Last Taboo-Article by Patrick Barkham This article vividly shows the real feelings of those involved in football concerning gay players and their treatment of those players who come out of the closet. It is indeed true that the idea of a gay player on the field playing for a major club is still taboo and in many circles in the football hierarchy, including within FIFA, is still very much frowned upon…
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