The first openly gay football judge thinks players should do more

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The first openly gay referee in the UK football thinks that big-named footballers should use the authority they have to tackle homophobia in sport. Professional referee Ryan Atkins, who came out as gay in August, is a key figure in Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, but homophobia is something which is impossible for him to overcome by himself. Many of people are still unaware of LGBT issues, they are not educated enough. Although the Premier League has announced a three-year partnership with Stonewall, the visual elements of the campaign need to be complemented by vocal efforts from the players, says Atkins. it would be enough for footballers just to condemn homophobia publicly, it would be a huge step to destroy it, he believes. “There are big names like Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo but none of them have said it: that if you are going to be homophobic, then don’t participate in sport. It needs people who the younger generation look up to. These are the people who can challenge behaviour,” the referee concludes

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