An openly gay referee Ryan Atkin who came out as gay this month has officiated a professional football match for the first time in England. Yesterday he was the fourth referee for a game in the Checkatrade Trophy. And the match’s excitement level matched its historic nature, as Stevenage Borough was thrashed 6-2 by Oxford United in the cup game. The referee commented that he was extremely pleased and honored to officiate it.
Since coming out, Atkin has been vocal in his activism, urging authorities to take homophobia more seriously, the same as racism. He said that “from a general perception outside of the referring community, I think if people are making homophobic remarks it should be treated the same as racist remarks. And people should be removed from grounds and they should receive bans because it’s exactly the same. Why it’s not dealt with the same we don’t know yet, but we will get there eventually.”