Ireland Football Fans Most Comfortable With LGBT+ Players

Republic of Ireland fans are top of the leaderboard when it comes to being comfortable with a gay or bisexual footballer pulling on the national jerseys.


Republic of Ireland fans are top of the leaderboard when it comes to being comfortable with a gay or bisexual footballer pulling on the national jerseys.

The equality charity, Stonewall, surveyed 50,000 fans from 38 different countries and found that overall 76% would feel comfortable if a player in their national team came out as gay or bisexual.

Irish fans were 11% above the overall figure with 87% stating they would be comfortable. This was the joint highest result with Iceland also polling 87%.

Two Irish football fans cheer at an Ireland match

On the other side of the coin, nations Egypt (10%), Saudi Arabia (11%) and the United Arab Emirates (13%) all polled the lowest. 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”.

World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar also scored poorly with only 14%, the United Arab Emirates views all sexual relations outside of marriage a crime with punishments ranging from jail time, fines and deportation. Although no known cases of this part of the law are publically known, fornication is also punishable by death.


Significant attitude shift since 2014

Comparing the findings with 2014’s previous study with Stonewall, it is shown that attitudes to gay football players have markedly shifted in just a three-year period, some for better and some for worse.

The UK had one of the most significant increases, rising 7% to 80%, American soccer fans attitudes have also seen a change rising 11% to 63% during the three year period.

Although next years World Cup 2018 hosts Russia have seen the largest increase in comfort with gay or bisexual national team players, still only 47% of fans would be accepting placing them in the bottom 10 nations of fans surveyed.

There were some significant drops in support from previous host countries Brazil and Italy. The Brazilians show the largest decrease dropping 7% to 60% with 62% of Italians fans now being comfortable with a gay footballer playing for the four-time World Cup winners, whereas 67% of Italy fans felt comfortable previously.


Should 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 considers this factor the most at 72%. Ireland also ranked highly here with 70% thinking this factor should be taken into account when decided on a World Cup host nation.

Fans from the host nation of the 2022 World Cup are the least likely to think that LGBT rights should be considered, with next years World Cup hosts Russian ranking in the bottom 4 at 26%.

You can see the full results here.

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