LONDON: Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned, in the wake of a Downing Street ‘summit’, that thought football has made rapid progress in anti-racism “there is no room for complacency.”
Prime Minister David Cameron had summed football representatives in the wake of the two high-profile incidents last October concerning Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra and John Terry/Anton Ferdinand.
Hunt, in a BBC Radio interview, said: “We wanted to ask if there was more we could do. For example, there is a lack of black managers and coaches. Then, taking all the lessons we have learned about tackling racism we wanetd to widen it out and see what can we do about homophobia.
“We are looking to the football authorities to take a real lead. When it came to racism and racist chants they did something about it so we had a very good discussion about that. As a society we have made a lot of progress when it comes to attitudes about sexuality.
“As for footballers none of them has come out but I don’t know whether that’s because there aren’t many or there are lots but they feel they would be bullied if they came out. One of the most scary statistics is that half of gay young people in secondary schools don’t play team sports because they think theyll be picked on.”
British basketball star John Amaechi had criticised football authorities for having set the wrong tone in laying responsibility for negative attitudes at fans. He added: “A [sport’s governing] body which hires its first woman only in 2012 is not progressive”
Hunt also criticised League Cup finalists Liverpool for the manner in which they had dealt with the Suarez issue. The club had remained in denial right until after the ‘handshake’ episode earlier this month at Old Trafford.
He said: “I was very disappointed with the way Liverpool handled that incident.
“In fact, both the incidents in recent months caused a lot of soul-searching. I might have been in the category of people who might have been a tad complacent and this has caused all of this to wake up and realise there is more to be done . . . and people like me can never influence young people like football icons can.”