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Inclusive Masculinities in Contemporary Football: Men in the Beautiful Game

The culture of association football (soccer) has often been branded as homophobic and a hostile environment for sexually diverse persons. In fact, Cashmore and Cleland (2011) in their sociological analysis, comment that football is “not known as a paradigm of liberalism” (p. 421), while prominent British journalist Owen Jones (2014) suggests “football remains one of the greatest fortresses of homophobia” (p. 3). Similarly, with the prominence of football within Europe and arguably most of the globe, the lack of openly gay players within the elite level of the game is purported as evidence of sport and football’s homophobic culture. It is unsurprising that many align to this prejudicial perspective, given the horrific experience Justin Fashanu encountered when he became the first and only openly gay active football player in English football’s top league in 1990.