When former Everton and Wales player Neville Southall said this week it’s “just a matter of time” before a gay professional soccer player comes out, some people will undoubtedly ask the question “well when?” How long is that “matter of time?”
I’m not concerned with that, because no one can tell you. It could be tomorrow, it could be 2019.
What’s most interesting to me is that there is an inevitability about athletes coming out in the Premier League. In the last year we’ve had men like FA boss Greg Clarke paint dark pictures of athletes coming out, claiming it’s virtually impossible.
Of course we know men like Clarke don’t know what they’re talking about, that they are focusing on the wrong elements of this conversation, and that the sports world, including English soccer, is far more advanced than Clarke gives credit.
The fact that Southall, who’s joined the Just A Ball Game? group as a patron, says it’s inevitable, inferring that soccer is “ready” for such a player, is a sign of progress in and of itself.