Regarding the issue of homophobia in the sports industry, video game Football Manager features gay players. Football Manager released their 2017 edition almost a year ago and is receiving a attention on the media for their reaction to homophobia. Sadly, there are no openly gay football players currently on the field.
The issue is that players are afraid of coming out to their teammates until they retire. Men in the sports industry are pressured to battle for their masculinity due to society’s gender norms. Looking back, Justin Fashanu who came out during his football career in 1990, ended up taking away his own life because he could not handle the hate. Over 15 years later, former football player Thomas Hitzlsperger who played for the English Premier League, came out in 2014 after retiring.
In response to homophobia, Miles Jacobson, the game’s director, told BBC Sport.”We’re not talking about real-life players. Instead it’s the fictional, computer-generated youngsters who appear as others retire, refreshing the game’s database at the end of each virtual season.”
By taking a virtual leap into equality, gamers as well as fans are in the direction towards open-mindedness. According to a survey by BBC Sport, “82% of players do not have an issue with having gay players whereas 8% would stop playing.”
Hopefully Football Manager also inspires athletes to be comfortable enough with themselves to no longer hide who they truly are.