Former professional footballer Paul Elliott said he knows 12 top current players who are gay. He said they are reluctant to come out because they fear negative reactions.
Mr Elliott, who now advises the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was speaking at 'Homophobia – Football's Final Taboo' – a forum organised by the Kick It Out campaign and hosted by the Football Association at its Soho Square headquarters last night (16 October 2008).
BBC sports reporter and commentator, Bob Ballard, who chaired the event, criticised the Football Association (FA) and Chelsea for allowing the appointment of Phil Scolari as Chelsea manager. Mr Scolari said he would never have a gay player on his team, which is against the FA's equal treatment rules.
Accusing the FA of double standards, Mr Ballard said that if Scolari had said he would kick out black or Jewish players he would have never been appointed at Chelsea.
Another speaker, gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, said: "The Football Association has great equality policies on paper but it often fails to put them into practice. It's time to turn the FA's opposition to anti-gay prejudice into action and give homophobia the boot."
Mr Tatchell outlined a four-point plan of action that he wants the Football Association to adopt.
*Information is provided by Peter Tatchell.