Three-quarters of soccer fans in a survey say they would welcome an openly gay player on their national team, though that number is lower in the U.S. and much lower in countries of the Middle East.
The survey of 50,000 fans in 38 countries on five continents was conducted by the soccer app Forza Football in conjunction with the British LGBT rights group Stonewall. It found that acceptance of having a gay player in Russia — site of the 2018 World Cup — more than doubled from 21% in 2014 to 47% in 2017.
Here are some key findings in survey:
- 76% of all respondents would accept their national soccer team having an openly gay player.
- 63% of the 7,732 fans who responded to the survey in U.S. shared that view. This was slightly behind the acceptance in Mexico (65%) and 24 points behind Iceland (87%).
- Fans in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — one of the 72 countries worldwide where same-sex relations are criminalized or in the process of being criminalized — would feel the least comfortable with a gay player (10%, 11%, and 13% respectively).
- 64% of soccer fans think FIFA should consider LGBT rights when deciding the locations for international tournaments. The 2022 World Cup is being held in Qatar and only 14% of Qataris would welcome an openly gay player.
“What these results reflect is how much work there is still to do before we can say that we live in a world where lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are accepted without exception. In 72 countries same-sex relationships are criminalized and, as this poll shows, where there is anti-LGBT legislation there will inevitably be hostile attitudes,” said Ruth Hunt, Stonewall executive director.
“We believe sport has the power to bring people together and create change. For many LGBT people in Russia for example, the World Cup is seen as an opportunity for the daily abuses and discrimination they face to be put under the spotlight; to be questioned and criticized,”
Hunt and Patrik Arnesson, Forza Football’s CEO, called on FIFA to make Russia a safe destination for LGBT fans at the World Cup.
“While it is encouraging to see the attitudes of Russian fans improving towards LGBT people in football, there is still such a long way to go,” Arnesson said. “With the biggest sporting event on earth taking place in Russia in 2018, we want to see FIFA taking a stronger stance to ensure the safety of all LGBT fans involved in the tournament.”
All surveys like this where people self-select on answering are not necessarily scientific, though 50,000 responses is very representative and the results are consistent with past surveys. Also, since Stonewall and Forza Football did a similar survey in 2014, trends can be established.
You can review the results here, including a country-by-country breakdown.