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From Love to Discrimination; Can Off-Pitch Unhappiness Affect the Outcome of The Beautiful Game?



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From Love to Discrimination; Can Off-Pitch Unhappiness Affect the Outcome of The Beautiful Game?

While football is arguably the most popular spectator sport globally, and many of its players are revered like Gods, few stop to think about the pressures the footballers are under each time they face their opposition on the pitch. From loneliness and depression to discrimination and a lack of a stable, long-term relationship, what players are dealing with emotionally off the pitch can directly impact their performance both as an individual and as a team. One of FIFA’s slogans is “Respect”, but football players still are victims of assaults and hate crimes.


Finding love and companionship as a footballer

While those outside the glare of the media spotlight can hook up for fun, friendship, and love in pubs, clubs, bars, and parties, things aren’t quite so simple for footballers. Often followed wherever they go by gossip-hungry paparazzi, heading out in public for a night of fun isn’t an option. In recent years, the world of online dating has become more popular and safer. It’s a fantastic option for players to chat and meet up with same-sex partners.

If we add to this halo of manhood and macho look surrounding football players, it becomes clear in what situation representatives of non-traditional orientation find themselves. Not everyone dares to appear in the public’s eyes in an embrace with a male partner and then hear offensive chants from the stands. After all, it is known that football fans are not the most loyal spectators. Therefore, it is absolutely obvious that famous football players prefer not to advertise their personal lives. In the world of online relationships, this is easy enough.

There are many dating sites where you can stay anonymous, meet new people and enjoy pleasant meetings. What else do you need if you don’t want to expose your life for public discussion? Gay dating sites can be singled out separately. One of the most popular platforms among M4M singles – Gaystryst, offers its users convenient filters for finding local dates, pages by interests, where you can find a partner for long-term relationships or several one-night stands. In case of the busy schedule of football players with games in different cities all around the world, online dating is the best solution for long-distance relationships or frequent partner changes.

How does this situation affect the psychological state of players? When your personal life is adjusted, then the game will be more effective. Depression and loneliness have not brought anyone to any good yet. But is it easy to admit your desires?

Discrimination against gay footballers has been around for decades. The LGBT movement is growing in force, and more people – professional sport men and women included – choose to be open about their sexual orientation. Nowadays, more and more football players show that being a homosexual football player is normal.


Footballers and how their sexual orientation can impact their gameplay

As the first (and only) openly gay professional football player in the UK, Justin Fashanu played for top-flight clubs from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s and tragically took his own life in 1998 over accusations of a sexual assault that took place in the U.S. If he were alive today, would he be frustrated and saddened by the lack of a change in attitude and acceptance within sporting circles towards openly gay players? There can be no denying that all professional sports people deserve to find love and happiness. What can footballers do to achieve it, get a chance of success on the pitch and give supporters the results they yearn for? 

Watford captain Troy Deeney declared his belief that every football team is likely to have at least one gay player and encouraged them to open up about their sexuality. 


If footballers found emotional happiness, could they play better on the pitch?

If we’re feeling lonely and unloved or are struggling to come to terms with our sexuality, our performance at work would undoubtedly take a hit, so why should it be any different for footballers? There is overwhelming evidence that only when a sportsperson’s mental and physical health is in great condition, their game-playing abilities reflect this. 

Football players give the results for their teams we so desperately want them to do. They give us so many emotions. So maybe we should share their interests and just let them enjoy life. Nowadays, “Respect” should be the main thing to remember about football players. Respect, support and accept footballers as they are.


We hope you enjoyed the article ‘From Love to Discrimination; Can Off-Pitch Unhappiness Affect the Outcome of The Beautiful Game?’ What can be done in the world of football to make it a safe space for footballers to come out openly? Let us know!


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Jacob graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Reading. An avid footballer, he spent time under the FAW academy programme as well as Cardiff Corinthians. Later going on to play for his university and Wellington United whilst residing in New Zealand. He currently resides in Frome, Somerset. You can contact him at [email protected]


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