Two of Football’s top referees have come out as gay in an effort to change the homophobic climate in the UK.
After being inspired by Jake Daniels and Josh Cavallo who are the first two professional players to come out while playing in professional world football, Scottish referees Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson have come out as gay in a bid to see a “climate change” in football.
Napier, 32, a category one referee, becomes the first openly gay figure in Scottish men’s professional football since Justin Fashanu played for Airdrie and Hearts in the mid-1990s, several years after announcing his sexuality.
He was quickly followed in coming out by fellow official Wilson, who officiates in Scotland’s lower leagues.
In a video on the Scottish Football Association’s Twitter account, Napier said he wanted to help remove the “stigma” and “fear” that others in his position may feel about revealing their sexuality.
“It’s something that I never thought I would be sitting here doing,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve obviously lived with for a long time. It’s been a difficult journey to get to this point, but over the last couple of years, it’s become a lot easier.
“I don’t think this needs to be a news story but I think, at the moment, it really does because we need to see the climate change so that people do feel that they can be their true self and live happily and comfortably in their own skin, and that needs to transcend into football.
“I remember reading the newspapers when Tom Daley came out and I was so inspired but not inspired enough where I felt confident enough that I could then come out because I thought ‘diving isn’t the same as football’. There is something about football at the moment. There’s still that barrier.
“I’m involved in lots of spheres in life whether it be social, whether it be at my work in the NHS, whether it be at university where I also work and I’m entirely comfortable. Football is different and I think that’s why these conversations are important because we need to change that culture. There are no footballers on the pitch that are open but they are there.
“Until we have these conversations and have these role models on the pitch, there will be that stigma, that fear and that’s what we need to change and I hope that we can do that by having these conversations.”
“We need to see the climate change so that people feel they can be their true self and live happily and comfortably in their own skin.”
An important conversation with Category One referee Craig Napier. pic.twitter.com/bYygya2k23
— Scottish FA (@ScottishFA) June 2, 2022
Lloyd Wilson suggested that the Football world is “prepared and ready” for more people to come out publicly as gay and “good inroads” are being made as the game becomes more inclusive.
Speaking with Sky Sports Wilson said there were many people in the game whether playing or working who are petrified of coming out and he hopes his story will make it easier for them.
“I think now I can walk about the streets not having to be feeling as though I’m different. That needs to be normalised now and we’re starting to make good inroads, the evidence I think is there. Football I hope is prepared and ready for it and I’m pretty certain Scottish football is.”
Last Updated on Jun 3, 2022