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New research says U.K. football fans have no problem with athletes coming out as gay.
According to the London Independent, the results of the study, which was conducted by England's University of Staffordshire, show that over 90% of football fans "would approve of a gay player and say there is no place for homophobia in football."
Many of these fans said they believe homophobic abuse -- which is generally cited as a reason for not coming out -- is really just "good humored banter," and that it's clubs and agents who are to blame for keeping athletes in the closet. One participant labeled this obstacle "brand damage."
The chairman of the Association of Football Agents, Mel Stein, disagreed with the study's findings. "It is utter nonsense to suggest that a sports agent would place any pressure on a client confirming or denying or concealing his sexual status," he said. "In the 21st century I think that a heterosexual affair would be far more damaging to a player's image than any acknowledgement of a player's homosexuality as far as sponsors were concerned."
Published in the Journal of Sport & Social Issues, the survey polled 3,500 football followers, the majority of whom said they felt players should be judged solely on their abilities.
Read the full story here.