"If there was someone who wanted to come out as gay, that's completely fine," says Leicester's Ben Chilwell
Friday 13 December 2019 10:36, UK
Ben Chilwell and James Maddison say Leicester's dressing-room would be a welcoming space for any footballer who wanted to come out as gay, amid the annual activation of Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign.
The campaign - designed to create LGBT-inclusive sports environments in which each individual truly feels part of the team - was first launched in football back in 2012.
While it's now a firm fixture in the calendar, tackling LGBT discrimination within the sport remains a work in progress.
Last month, a man was arrested following alleged homophobic abuse of the referee during a League One game between Tranmere and Wycombe.
This week, Radcliffe Borough medic Mary Priestner says she was spat at and subjected to "disgusting" homophobic and sexist abuse during a Lancashire Cup game.
That came after West Ham fans were accused of homophobic chanting during their win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Saturday - and there are still no out gay or bisexual male professional footballers in England's top four divisions.
Sky Sports caught up with three members of Leicester's LGBT supporters' group Foxes Pride - Graeme Smith, Paul Malley, and Michelle Keatman - to discuss inclusion in the game.
The trio were joined by Leicester players Chilwell and Maddison ahead of the Renault Super Sunday clash against Aston Villa - and the pair were keen to send out a strong message: everybody's welcome.
"If you look back 30 years ago, dressing rooms were a lot more ruthless," Chilwell told Sky Sports. "But ours now is completely open to anything. We've got different countries together, different religions and different races.
"Everyone is so together at Leicester, and I know that's the same with other clubs.
"If there was someone who wanted to come out as gay, that's completely fine."
Maddison added: "We've got a very accepting changing room, and I think if one of our team-mates was to come out and say they were gay, nothing changes.
"That's how it is with us, and hopefully going forward that can be the same for everyone."
The annual activation of Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign - which is supported by Sky Sports - is under way now and runs until Monday.
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