The Internet as a site of decreasing cultural homophobia in Association Football: An online response by fans to the coming out of Thomas Hitzlsperger

2016-06-06T12:53:37Z (GMT) by Jamie Cleland R. Magrath T. Kian
This article analyses 5,128 comments from 35 prominent football fan online message boards located across the United Kingdom and 978 online comments in response to a Guardian newspaper article regarding the decision by former German international footballer, Thomas Hitzlsperger, to publicly come out as gay in January 2014. Adopting the theoretical framework of inclusive masculinity theory, the findings demonstrate almost universal inclusivity through the rejection of homophobia and frequent contestation of comments that express orthodox views. From a period of high homophobia during the 1980s and 1990s, just 2 per cent of the 6,106 comments contained pernicious homophobic intent. Rather than allow for covert homophobic hate speech towards those with a different sexual orientation, 98 per cent of the comments illustrate a significant decrease in cultural homophobia than was present when Justin Fashanu came out in 1990.