The only publicly out gay soccer referee in Spain is calling it quits after repeated verbal abuse at the hands of fans. Jesús Tomillero claims the homophobic abuse didn't just come at the hands of people attending professional soccer matches, but at "youth" or amateur soccer games.
Tomillero came out publicly last March as he presented a formal complaint against a kit man from Peña Madridista Linense in the under-19 league in Andalucía, which resulted in a nine-game ban and a €30 fine. He told the newspaper El Español he has been subjected to abuse since and that last weekend he reached breaking point.
Soon after Tomillero gave a penalty, he says someone from among the visiting supporters shouted: "That's that poof who was on the telly," adding, "you can stick the goal up your arse, you fucking poof". The referee said the worst thing was that "everyone in the crowd laughed". He communicated his decision to quit football to the Andalucían football federation soon after.
The most homophobic actions I've ever faced on a football field have been as a referee, so I'm not surprised to read this. Though it sounds like Tomillero experienced it much worse than I ever have, and much more frequently.
It's a reminder of just how far behind American sports the European soccer world continues to be. Homophobic chants and anti-gay language continue en masse there and in South and Central America, in addition to sometimes blatant racism. Despite some suspensions here and there, it continues. I feel lucky to live in a country that largely doesn't tolerate this anymore.