MP: Help gay footballers come out
The Government is seeking to encourage a welcoming atmosphere in football in which gay players can come out without fear of discrimination, MPs have been told.
Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone paid tribute to England cricketer Steven Davies who recently announced he is gay, and Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas who came out in 2009.
She said there should be an "atmosphere and ambience" in football where players are also free to "come forward and come out". There are no openly gay footballers in England's top four divisions.
At Commons question time, Conservative MP Mark Menzies said: "We have recently seen positive role models come out in both rugby and cricket, to much support from the general public and the sports community.
"What steps are you taking to encourage a similar welcoming atmosphere in football, the nation's most popular sport?"
Ms Featherstone replied: "I'd like to put on record our congratulations to Stephen Davies, the English cricketer, and Gareth Thomas, the Welsh rugby player, for coming out.
"Obviously it is very important and we look forward to working with the Football Association to create an atmosphere and ambience where footballers also feel free to come forward and come out if they wish.
"Not just for the sake of the league and themselves but also for the sake of youngsters all over the country who should be able to play on any field of sport free of any kind of discrimination."