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Stonewall condemns ‘sad’ homophobic abuse targeting footballer Jake Daniels

Jake Daniels’ decision to come out as gay ‘takes incredible courage’ LGTBQ+ charity Stonewall said in a statement (Sky Sports News/PA)
Jake Daniels’ decision to come out as gay ‘takes incredible courage’ LGTBQ+ charity Stonewall said in a statement (Sky Sports News/PA)

LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall has said it is proud of Blackpool FC’s Jake Daniels for coming out, but added it was “sad” to see homophobic abuse targeted at the player online.

On Monday, the 17-year-old became the first Briton in the men’s professional game to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson among many to tweet their support, thanking the forward for his “bravery”.

But on Tuesday, which is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Lesbophobia and Transphobia, Stonewall spoke out after some social media users posted homophobic messages, subjecting the footballer to slurs and abuse.

The statement from Blackpool FC’s Twitter account has garnered more than 174,000 likes and 11,700 responses, where many have sought to discriminate against Daniels.

One response to the announcement is a video of the LGBTQ+ flag being walked and trodden on in the street before being kicked away, while another attached a drawing of a man brushing the flag into a drain with a broom.

Liz Ward, director of programmes at Stonewall, said: “We are proud that Jake has felt able to share his truth with the world and are heartened by the overwhelmingly support he’s received from across football, media, politics and the fans.”

“To come out as the UK’s first openly gay professional footballer in nearly 30 years takes incredible courage and we believe that football is ready for this moment.

“It’s sad that a tiny number of people have reacted to the news by posting hate, which has no place in sport.

“It’s important that we all take a stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia – both on and off the pitch. The hate Jake’s received is unacceptable but it’s important to remember that these disgusting comments do not reflect the general public’s attitude towards LGBTQ+ athletes, who are overwhelmingly supportive of LGBTQ+ players.

“We know that there’s still a way to go to combat anti-LGBTQ+ hate but it’s fantastic that we’re moving towards a world where players can live openly as their true selves – and that is something we can all take pride in.”

Jake Daniels said he had been inspired by other sportsmen who have come out (Sky Sports News/PA handout)

Twitter users responded to the tweets of official accounts who showed solidarity with Daniels, such as the verified Premier League who wrote: “The footballing world is with you, Jake”.

“No it’s not, shame on him,” one person replied, while someone else said: “Don’t speak for us… We’re not and most of the football world are not with him.”

Another answered: “I have zero sympathy for (Jake Daniels). What he’s doing is biblically socially naturally unnatural.”

A spokesperson for Twitter acknowledged there is “still work to be done” when it comes to tackling hate on the site.

They said: “We are committed to combating abuse motivated by hatred, prejudice or intolerance and as outlined in our hateful conduct policy, we do not tolerate the abuse or harassment of people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity.

“While we have made recent strides in giving people greater control to manage their safety, we know there is still work to be done. This is a company-wide priority as our product, policy and engineering teams continue to work at scale and pace to build a healthier Twitter.

“We have removed the majority of the tweets referenced for violations of our hateful conduct policy and will continue to take action when we identify any tweets or accounts that violate the Twitter rules.”