March 8 2014 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Friday, January 10, 2014
Chris Hughton believes football is ready to deal with the issue of homophobia in the wake of former Premier League midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger revealing he is gay.
Both Hughton and Norwich keeper John Ruddy yesterday backed the former Aston Villa, Everton and German international’s decision to go public in a bid to raise awareness about the issue within the professional game.
“He has had a lot of messages of support and we all applaud him. We are all searching for the day when it is not such a big deal,” said Hughton. “We are definitely in a different place in 2014 to where the game was 10 or 20 years ago. I would like to think society is more open and football is the same as a result. Thomas made the decision and he must have felt this was the right time for him. It is down to the individual but I certainly feel we are more accepting as a sport than perhaps people on the outside assume.
“Something like this is down to the individual. I can only speak as a manager who believes we as an industry welcome many different and diverse backgrounds and we have to make sure we accept all of them. If there was ever a case of abuse for anyone still playing who did decide to come out then like the way racism has been tackled we would have to deal with it. We have worked very hard in this country and we are in a far better place.”
Ruddy admitted the potential reaction from supporters is likely be an inevitable consideration should any current footballer want to follow Hitzlsperger’s lead.
“We will not really know until it happens, but that could be part of the reason why they don’t want to,” he said. “It is 2014, and if that is the case, then our society needs to take a look at itself a bit harder. I don’t see why someone could not come out, but it is going to take a big step for someone to do that. I certainly know that if someone did it at a club I was playing at, then they would have nothing but full support from myself and certainly in this dressing room here as well.
“We would fully back anyone who wants to come out as gay or whatever because the person they are does not change because of their sexuality.
“From what I know when he was at Everton last season, all of the lads really enjoyed him being around. For me, if someone is gay, no matter what they do, it does not really matter. It is the person they are which makes them who they are.”