Homophobia in FootballThe Fan's Perspective

Ahead of the Russia World Cup next year, we've partnered with Europe’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) equality charity, Stonewall, to ask over 50,000 Forza Football users, from 38 countries across 5 continents, about their attitudes towards gay & bisexual players, and homophobia in the sport.

Do you know how many openly gay or bisexual male footballers play in Europe's top five leagues?

Zero

1

Would you feel comfortable if a player in your national team came out as gay or bisexual?

1Would you feel comfortable if a player in your national team came out as gay or bisexual?
50,000 Fans polled
38 Countries
5 Continents

76% would feel comfortable if a player in their national team came out as gay or bisexual.

The highest results overall are from Ireland and Iceland - both tied with 87% of football fans being comfortable with a gay or bisexual footballer pulling on their national jerseys’.
87%

As for areas with the lowest scores, just 10% of Egyptian fans surveyed are comfortable with the idea of a gay or bisexual footballer representing ‘The Pharaohs’.

While same-sex relationships are not explicitly illegal in Egypt, members of the LGBT community can be arrested in public on charges of "debauchery", "immorality" or "blasphemy".

10%
In fact, of the lowest-scoring five countries (Egypt with 10%, Saudi Arabia with 11%, United Arab Emirates with 13%, World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar with 14%, Jordan with 18%) four of the five have laws which can be used to directly prosecute LGBT citizens.
80% of UK football fans would be comfortable with gay or bisexual player for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland respectively, placing them 3rd overall.
80%
63% of American soccer fans would feel comfortable with a gay or bisexual player, placing them 16th overall.
63%
In comparison, fans of ‘El Tricolor’ are more comfortable than the USA, with 65% of Mexico fans expressing comfort with a gay player in their national colours.
65%
2

Attitudes towards gay and bisexual national teams' players compared with 2014

2Attitudes towards gay and bisexual national teams' players compared with 2014

Comparing the findings with 2014’s previous study with Stonewall, we can see that attitudes to gay football players has markedly shifted in just a three-year period.

The hosts of the 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup have seen the largest increase in comfort with gay or bisexual national team players since being asked in 2014.

47% of Russian football fans would now be accepting, compared with just 21% in 2014 - an increase of 26%. However, this score still sees Russia in the bottom 10 nations of fans surveyed.

+26%

The largest decrease comes from the World Cup’s previous hosts, Brazil, with a drop of 7% from prior to the tournament in 2014.

60% of Brazilians still feel comfortable with a gay or bisexual footballer for Seleção, compared with 67% previously.

-7%
The attitude of Azzuri fans has seen a significant decrease of 6% from 2014 - with 62% now being comfortable with a gay footballer playing for the four-time World Cup winners, whereas 67% of Italy fans felt comfortable previously.
-6%
The UK is one of the many footballing nations to have seen a significant increase, rising 7% from 73% in 2014, to 80% overall.
+7%
American soccer fan attitudes have also changed during the three-year period, rising from 52% to 63% during that time.
+11%
3

Should FIFA consider LGBT rights when deciding who hosts international tournaments?

3Should FIFA consider LGBT rights when deciding who hosts international tournaments?

With LGBT rights being big talking points around the next two FIFA World Cup tournaments, fans were asked whether consideration of these rights should have an impact on which host nations are selected for international tournaments.

Globally, 64% of all fans surveyed believe that LGBT rights should be a considered factor.

Iceland polled the highest, with 77% of Icelandic fans believing LGBT rights should be a factor in choosing tournament hosts - 7% higher than the second highest, Ireland.
77%
Fans from the host nation of the 2022 World Cup are the least likely to think that LGBT rights should be considered - with just 14% in Qatar believing that they should be a factor.
14%
Qatar’s score was the joint-lowest alongside other Gulf countries Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Only 26% of fans in Russia, hosts of next summer’s World Cup, believe that LGBT rights should be considered, putting them in the bottom four of respondents.
26%
66% of British fans believe LGBT rights should be a factor. The last international tournament to be hosted in the UK was the European Championships in 1996.
66%
55% of the American fans also believe that LGBT rights should be considered.
55%
4

Should football clubs be active in educating fans on homophobic abuse?

4Should football clubs be active in educating fans on homophobic abuse?

The education of fans on the rights of the LGBT community can come from many different sources, one of which can be local football teams.

Fans were asked whether they felt clubs should play a part in that education process, with 68% surveyed worldwide believing they should be.

Football fans in Spain were the most passionate about education at a club level, with 82% of respondents agreeing that they should be providing education.
82%
Just 23% of fans in Saudi Arabia feel that this is the responsibility of a football club they support, placing them at the very bottom of the countries asked.
23%

Bundesliga fans in Germany are 12% below the global average in support for this idea, as well as the lowest amongst Europe’s top five leagues, with 56% agreeing that education should come from football clubs.

56%
75% of fans in the UK support the idea of education on homophobic abuse from a club level, placing them fifth overall in support of this statement.
75%
64% of MLS fans also agree that clubs should play a part in education, tying them with France, Greece and the Czech Republic.
64%
5

Would you personally support an LGBT inclusion-in-sport campaign (e.g. Rainbow Laces)?

5Would you personally support an LGBT inclusion-in-sport campaign (e.g. Rainbow Laces)?

The Rainbow Laces campaign has been running in the UK since 2013 and has grown year-on-year in terms of exposure and support.

The campaign involves players, fans and other personalities in football showing their solidarity with the LGBT community by adopting rainbow laces for one weekend in the sporting calendar.

Football fans across the world were asked whether they would personally support a campaign of inclusion for the LGBT community in sport.

As with a number of other questions related to LGBT rights, Icelandic fans are the most passionate about supporting an inclusive campaign, with 77% agreeing they would.
77%
The lowest personal support came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt - with just 7% of Saudi Arabian fans and 8% of Egyptians fans feeling they can personally offer support to an inclusive campaign, similar to Rainbow Laces.
British fans are the fifth-most supportive of inclusive campaigns, with 66% saying they would personally back them.
66%
Just over half of fans in America would be supportive, with 51% offering their backing as opposed to 49% who feel they couldn’t.
51%
6

Have you ever witnessed other fans being homophobic during a football match?

6Have you ever witnessed other fans being homophobic during a football match?

Although rules against homophobic abuse at football matches have become generally stricter, globally, 43% of fans say they have witnessed homophobic behaviour while attending a game.

Fans in Spain are the most likely to have seen or heard homophobic abuse at games, with 66% saying they had witnessed such instances at football matches.
66%
Albania were the second highest, with 59% of fans saying they had witnessed homophobic abuse.
59%
With concerns from LGBT fan groups leading into the next World Cup, only 21% of Russian fans say they have witnessed homophobic abuse - tying them in bottom place with Jordan.
21%
British fans are in accordance with the global average, with 42% saying they had witnessed homophobic abuse.
42%
Fans in America are lower, with just 34% saying they had been witness to such an incident at a live game.
34%
7

Would you feel confident reporting homophobic abuse if you witnessed it at a football match?

7Would you feel confident reporting homophobic abuse if you witnessed it at a football match?

Witnessing abuse is just one aspect of the campaign against homophobia, fans were also asked how comfortable they would be in reporting the abuse to relevant authorities such as stewards, the police or the club themselves.

Despite only 37% of Icelandic fans having witnessed homophobic abuse at game, 83% say they would feel confident in reporting it.
83%
With Spanish fans topping the witnesses of homophobic abuse, 79% would feel confident in flagging it with the relevant authorities.
79%
Fans in Qatar are the least confident in reporting homophobic abuse, with 26% tying them with Saudi Arabia.
26%
64% of UK fans would feel confident when it comes to reporting homophobic abuse, with 42% having witnessed incidents at British grounds.
64%
Despite being below the global average of incidents witnessed (34%), 68% of American fans would feel confident in reporting abuse if they witnessed it.
68%

With the Russia World Cup in 2018, and Qatar to follow four years later, the need for education and engagement with LGBT issues has never been stronger. Though this data shows that inclusivity is increasing around the world, there is still a long way to go.