Senior Tory MP: 'Football is intolerant of gay people'
Football is still "intolerant of gay people" and the law should be changed to crack down on the problem, according to a senior MP.
Julian Knight, the newly-elected chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said it was "incredible" that there was still no openly gay player in the UK.
The footballing authorities have taken a series of measures in recent years, including the "rainbow laces" campaign, to stamp out homophobia in the game.
But unlike in other sports, no top-level player has felt able to come out publicly.
In an interview with The House magazine, Conservative MP Mr Knight said: "It's incredible is it not, in a Premier League of several hundred players… that we don't have an openly gay footballer.
"Football is still homophobic, it's intolerant of gay people."
He said he would like to change the Football (Offences) Act 1991 to specifically outlaw homophobia in football grounds in the same way that racism is.
He said: "[Amending the Act] is something that has been mooted for a long time, but because of elections, it’s never happened. We’ve got a good run now. Let’s go for that."
In 2017, the DCMS Committee said football fans responsible for homophobic abuse at matches should face bans of up to two years.
In a report, the committee called for a “zero tolerance” approach to homophobic abuse at all levels of all sports - but it said attitudes were particularly bad in the footballing world.
Then-chairman Damian Collins said: "From the evidence we have received in this inquiry, we believe there are many gay athletes who have not come out, because they are frightened of the impact this decision will have on their careers, and the lives of the people they love.
"That is not acceptable and should not be tolerated."