Robert Hampton

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14th March 2013

Ball ball ball, footy footy footy

I have to love Manchester United fans.

Having spent £1000 on a season ticket, £50 on a replica strip and £250 on a Sky Sports subscription, they have, in the last week, finally cottoned on that the shareholders of their beloved football club are actually more interested in money than the game itself.

Yep, I think it’s fair to say I’ve always been mystified by football. From the reaction to Wayne Rooney leaving Everton, to the behaviour of “fans” attending a European cup game, I cannot understand anything about the game, or why a group of men kicking a ball around a field is a multi-million pound industry.

This isn’t snobbery (well, it is a bit, I suppose) – just my cold, logical mind and short attention span combining to ensure that the tension and excitement of a 90 minute football game is completely unappealing. I simply cannot get excited about “clashes” or “derbies” or anything like that. All those bombastic Sky Sports ads sound exactly like this Mitchell and Webb sketch (originally linked by me back in February 2008, and still just as funny now):

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4th May 2011

Friends in Hysén Places
Posted by at 6.55pm | Gay | No responses

I pre-scheduled this post before I left for Tallinn on 3rd May!

Attitude Active Cover with Anton HysenThe new issue of Attitude is out now and features an interview with two newly out sportsmen – cricketer Steven Davies and footballer Anton Hysén.

Every article I’ve seen about him makes me like him even more, because Hysén consistently comes across as a thoroughly decent, down-to-earth man. He speaks eloquently in interviews. His sexuality is a non-issue: to his team-mates and his manager, he is just one of the lads. He has experienced some homophobia from the terraces, but seems to be taking it in his stride.

He was born in Liverpool while his dad Glenn was playing for LFC, and he still supports the team (in the Attitude interview he reveals that his role model is Steven Gerrard). He currently plays for a Swedish 4th division team but hopes to develop his career. And that is the great part – he is coming out at the start of career, a move that would have damaged his chances of success not long ago.

It’s so refreshing to see someone so totally at ease with himself about being gay and what that means. In the second decade of the 21st century, sexuality is no longer the barrier it once was.

The full article, which is well worth reading, can be found in the Summer 2011 issue of Attitude. It is out now at all good newsagents (and some bad ones as well, probably), or you can buy a digital copy for computer or iPad.

22nd March 2011

In which Robert pretends to know about football
Posted by at 9.59pm | Gay | 2 responses

Anton Hysén plays for the lower leagues of Swedish football, but he has made headlines around the world after coming out as gay earlier this month. Two weeks later, the subject is still a talking point.

There’s a wonderfully positive article in today’s Daily Mail, of all places (as usual, ignore the comments). I love this little nugget of information:-

He was born in Liverpool during his dad’s time at the club and is still an obsessive fan, bellowing out You’ll Never Walk Alone in tiny clubhouse showers, emerging with a Liverpool towel and speaking of his admiration for Steven Gerrard.

There’s also a brief piece on Hysén over on the BBC Sport blog, accompanied by a good, frank report where he talks about the response — generally, positive attention from all over the world, marred by the odd piece of hate mail. He seems determined to treat the whole thing as no big deal, which it shouldn’t be, really. Overall, he seems remarkably happy with his position in life.

Mind you, I would be happy too if I was standing next to this man:-

Anton Hysén and friend in the changing room

The main theme of a lot of the articles I’ve read is: when will a British player follow suit? It’s difficult to know what the reaction would be – the Guardian’s secret footballer believes that fan abuse would still be rife. On the other hand, the Professional Footballers Association has pledged to support any players who do take this big step.

It will be a brave man who decides to be the first. However, the fact that people are talking about it openly means that the taboo has been slightly broken, meaning it is much more likely that we will see a gay footballer in the English leagues within the next few years. And in a world where football players are idolised by millions, hopefully he can be a much needed positive role model.