Gay referee calls for reinforcement

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assistant-referee-620x400Spain’s first openly gay football referee says more will follow his lead by coming out – even though he quit after being verbally abused.

Jesus Tomillero, 21, spoke to the BBC on the day a Parliament inquiry into homophobia in sport heard from experts who criticised sporting bodies for lack of action on the issue.

The former referee similarly complained of a lack of support within the game.

“It’s been humiliating,” he told BBC World Service’s Azi Farni.

But he added: “I have broken the ice and more will come out now. For me, that will be an honour.”

“They will have my full unconditional support. The more of us there are, the stronger we will be. And I’m telling them to come out. To be strong like me. To be brave. And for us to keep fighting for what we want.”

Wednesday’s Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing was told UK bodies had signed a charter for action in 2010, but little has been done since.

Professor Ian Rivers from University of Strathclyde, who carried out the first international study of homophobia in sport, was one of the three experts to give evidence.

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“There is an inactivity within the clubs and within the boardrooms that actually needs to be addressed,” he said.

His study said 80% of almost 10,000 participants had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport.

Tomillero, who suggested there are gay referees officiating in La Liga, said he had received support from Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, as well as his fellow officials.

But he said fans, football clubs, coaches and players had made “deplorable” remarks and “homophobic slurs”.

Fourteen months ago, Tomillero posted a picture of himself and his boyfriend on social media with the caption: “This is where my happiness starts.”

He said: “I had to be brave and say ‘here I am, I will be the first one who admits it’. Who cares what they say to me?”

“The clubs would say things like: ‘Look, there is the fag referee.”

 

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ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

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A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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