Published on February 17, 2014 | by Robert Russell0
Stoney ‘coming out’ an important step towards equality in footballEngland Ladies’ Football Captain Casey Stoney is hoping that she has made it easier for higher profile sports men and women to declare their sexuality after speaking publicly about being gay.
The former Lincoln Ladies defender is now recognised as the most high–profile active gay footballer in England. Both former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger and LA Galaxy forward Robbie Rogers have said they are gay, but both had retired from the sport at the time of their respective announcements.
Stoney, who has played 116 times for England, admitted that her sexuality was known in the footballing world, but wanted to express it to the ‘outside world’.
The defender recently joined Arsenal Ladies, and is a regular campaigner for equality in the sport. She is the latest in a host of sporting names to open up and speak openly about their sexuality in the past few months. Another of these was Olympic diver Tom Daley, who said late in 2013 he was in a relationship with a man.
Stoney revealed that she wanted to build on the positivity and support which Daley received when he came out in December: “I looked at the response that Tom got. It was incredibly positive, and I thought ‘wow the world is changing and it’s time for me to stand up and tell my side of the story'”.
Lynsey Hooper, a sports broadcaster and presenter for BBC Sport, spoke to ALN about the issue of homosexuality in the women’s game: “I applaud Casey for being brave and giving others playing the sport the confidence to come out.
“Sexuality shouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately it is and makes headlines. For example, you only have to look at Casey’s story, it made headlines in Germany last week. Hopefully one day it won’t be news, it will simply be accepted,” Hooper added.
The subject has been thrown into the limelight recently with the Winter Olympics taking place in Sochi, Russia, where there has been extensive controversy over anti- gay propaganda and legislation. Russia is also set to host the 2018 World Cup and Stoney has said that she wouldn’t be attending if the current attitudes towards sexuality persist, and that she felt sympathetic for gay athletes competing in Sochi.
Stoney’s new side Arsenal will try and reclaim back the WSL title from Liverpool Ladies when the season gets underway in April.