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Tom Daley Slams Sports Leagues in Pro-LGBTQ+ Christmas Message

Tom Daley
Channel 4; Instagram

"Why are we allowing places that aren't safe for ALL fans and ALL players to host our most prestigious sporting events?"


British Olympic diver Tom Daley has called out sports leagues for allowing countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia to host major sporting events even while these states persecute LGBTQ+ people.

The gold medalist made the remarks for Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message to air on Christmas Day, December 25. The message is aired as another option to view instead of watching the queen of England's traditional Christmas Message.

Daley, 27, said he had been "lucky" that he could live his life as an out gay man and live proudly with his husband, Dustin Lance Black, and their son, Robert.

However, Daley also noted that sports have a long way to go.

"In 2022 the World Cup is being held in the second most dangerous country for queer people, Qatar. Why are we allowing places that aren't safe for ALL fans and ALL players to host our most prestigious sporting events?" Tom Daley said, according to a Channel 4 press release. "Hosting a world cup is an honor. Why are we honoring them? Holding a Formula 1 grand prix is an honor. Why are we honoring Saudi Arabia?"

He said that even though there are thousands of professional soccer players, Australian player Josh Cavallo is the only out professional in the world. Cavallo came out in October. He's also voiced concern over having the World Cup in Qatar.

"Well done, Josh, I mean, your courage is amazing. But just think for a moment about the number of players who are too scared to speak up, and how lonely that must be," Daley said.

He added that statistically speaking there is probably one gay man per professional soccer team in the U.K. even if none are out. "So, if I had one Christmas wish it would be that next year that changes. That one impossibly brave Premier League player steps forward and says 'I am gay,'" he said.

Daley explained that out player would inspire LGBTQ+ people around the world. They would give hope to those struggling with their sexuality, while also saving lives.

"Women's sport seems to be further ahead than men's. This year's Olympics saw its first trans athletes competing. And Quinn was the first out trans Olympic medallist securing the Gold for the Canadian Women's Soccer Team," Daley said. "The fact that they achieved this in the current climate of fear and panic around trans people, makes their achievements all the more impressive."

He added: "There is no LGB without the T."

Daley concluded his message with a call for inclusivity. "We can make this country the most accepting, the most inclusive, the most progressive country on Earth. What if in Britain anybody could be anything regardless of where they started? What if we all started from the same place. Now wouldn't that be something to be proud of?" he said.

Channel 4's director of programs, Ian Katz, said that Daley's selection was due to him being one of the faces of 2021 due to his gold medal victories at the Tokyo Olympics.

"We are delighted that he is using The Alternative Christmas Message as a platform to speak out and raise an issue close to his heart -- and ours," Katz said in the release. "It is shocking and depressing that our most popular sporting league remains an environment in which no gay player feels able to openly be themselves and we hope Tom's message will make a small contribution to changing that."

Channel 4 first aired the Alternative Christmas Message in 1993. Previous presenters have included whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and the Simpsons. Last year, the message was delivered by a digitally created "deepfake" queen of England.

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