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Tom Daley to deliver alternative Christmas message on homophobia in sport

The diver said his ‘Christmas wish’ was that next year ‘one impossibly brave Premier League player’ comes out as gay.

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The Alternative Christmas Message 2021 by Tom Daley (Channel 4/PA)

The Alternative Christmas Message 2021 by Tom Daley (Channel 4/PA)

The Alternative Christmas Message 2021 by Tom Daley (Channel 4/PA)

Olympic diver Tom Daley will deliver Channel 4’s alternative Christmas message this year, addressing the issue of homophobia in sports such as football.

The 27-year-old, who is gay, will reflect on representing his country at the Tokyo Olympics and applaud athletes who have spoken openly about their mental health this year.

Daley, who has won four Olympic medals, will also tackle the absence of openly gay players in top flight football.

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Tom Daley and Matty Lee at the Tokyo Olympics (Adam Davy/PA)

Tom Daley and Matty Lee at the Tokyo Olympics (Adam Davy/PA)

PA

Tom Daley and Matty Lee at the Tokyo Olympics (Adam Davy/PA)

He will say how “incredibly lucky” he feels that his sport has supported him to live publicly as a gay man, but acknowledge not everyone in sport has the same backing.

In October, Australian footballer Josh Cavallo became the first high-level professional male player to come out as gay and Daley will praise his bravery.

Speaking about the UK, he will add: “If I had one Christmas wish, it would be that next year that changes. That one impossibly brave Premier League player steps forward and says, ‘I am gay’.

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“That person would inspire gay people everywhere, give hope to thousands of teenagers struggling with their sexuality and save the lives of countless young people who don’t currently feel like they have a place in this world.”

He will add: “In 2022 the World Cup is being held in the second most dangerous country for queer people, Qatar.

“Why are we allowing places that aren’t safe for all fans and all players to host our most prestigious sporting events?”

Daley will also celebrate Tokyo marking the first time a transgender athlete, the Canadian footballer Quinn, competed at the Olympics.

He will applaud the achievements of such athletes “especially in the current climate of fear and panic around trans people”, and add that “there is no LGB without the T”.

Channel 4’s alternative Christmas message airs opposite the BBC’s broadcast of the Queen’s official annual televised message to the nation.

It has previously been delivered by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, actor Danny Dyer, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, children who survived the Grenfell Tower disaster, and The Simpsons.

The broadcaster’s director of programmes Ian Katz said: “Tom Daley’s Olympic triumph made him one of the faces of 2021 and we are delighted that he is using The Alternative Christmas Message as a platform to speak out and raise an issue close to his heart – and ours.

“It is shocking and depressing that that our most popular sporting league remains an environment in which no gay player feels able to openly be themselves and we hope Tom’s message will make a small contribution to changing that.”

The Alternative Christmas Message airs on Christmas Day at 5pm on Channel 4 and All 4.


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