Actions of Boateng and Jarvis to be applauded
It is reassuring to know that football, and those within the game, can still play a part in attempting to tackle some of those issues which affect many in society. In the past two days we have seen the actions of two individuals whose respective stances against racism and homophobia grab media attention for all of the right reasons.
Yesterday AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng took such exception to racist abuse being aimed at him from the stands that he grabbed the ball just 26 minutes into his team’s friendly match against Pro Patria and kicked it in the direction of those people whose abuse he had suffered. Having made his point directly to those supporters he then walked off the pitch in disgust and his team-mates followed suit in a move which has won many admirers and which, we can only hope, will be repeated in future if such scenes are witnessed at any other football ground.
Today it has been reported in the English press that West Ham United player Matt Jarvis is to feature on the front cover of a gay magazine in order to point out that homophobia has no place in the game of football and that gay footballers shouldn’t be scared to ‘come out’ publicly. This is an issue which seems to remain taboo in football with only Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool and Sweden defender Glenn Hysen, having publicly declared his sexuality. Although the issue remains sensitive in other sports there has been a slow stream of stars in recent years who have revealed their sexuality including Welsh rugby union player Gareth Thomas, boxer Orlando Cruz and Basketball player John Amaechi.
Although Jarvis himself is not gay he, like many others, believes that homophobia, just like racism, should not be ignored and it is the actions of people such as Jarvis and Boateng which proves that football can do things in a sensitive and sensible fashion and for a game which all too often attracts negative headlines in such cases in this instance it should be applauded.