Former England international John Fashanu has admitted that he paid his late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay before his death in 1998.
Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest in the 1980s, came out as gay before he committed suicide in May 1998 at the age of 37.
As the 20th anniversary of Fashanu’s death approaches, John admitted that he had acted like “a monster” to his older brother and now wants the Football Association to do more to support gay footballers as well as tackling racial and homophobic abuse.
“It was a lack of education,” the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show on Wednesday.
“I make it very clear I was a monster to Justin then. I paid him £75,000 not to say that he was gay.
“I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation.
“We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.”
Capped by England at Under-21 level, Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1million transfer fee when he moved from Norwich to Forest in 1981.
But his career never hit the heights thereafter, he publicly came out as gay in 1990 and he played for nearly 20 clubs before retiring from football in 1997.
There are currently no openly gay players in the Premier League.
But John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay, and he wants the FA to do more to support players coming out.
“We have a number of well-known footballers who are gay and they don’t feel comfortable with the environment,” said Fashanu, who became a television star by appearing in shows like ‘Gladiator’ and ‘I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here’ after his football career.
“They know their empires will be destroyed.
“It is supporters, administrators… not so much the players because they know who is gay and who is not gay.
“They give each other support, but it is quite gentle support.”
Fashanu said racial and homophobic abuse still existed in English football as he had experienced it at a Premier League game in London three weeks ago.
“A gentleman came up to me and said: ‘You black so-and-so and your brother’s this and this’.
“I was surprised, I hadn’t been to a match for a few years and I thought to myself ‘Even at this stage’.
“I quietly smiled at him and tried to make a little laugh and a joke of it, but when we say has racism and homophobia moved? Well, yes, it has. It’s moved backwards, that’s where we’re going.
“We need more support from the FA because it’s a lack of education.
“The FA needs to create an environment where gay footballers are comfortable to come out and say ‘I’m gay’.