Colleagues and gay rights campaigners have welcomed the decision by England cricketer Steven Davies to come out as gay.
But campaigners warned that football risked being shown up in failing to create an environment that made it easier for top players to follow the examples of Gareth Thomas in rugby and Davies in cricket in coming out while they were still playing.
Davies, part of England’s Ashes-winning squad this winter, said it was a massive relief to be able to talk openly about his sexuality. The 24-year-old wicketkeeper was praised for addressing the issue so early in his career. “What he has done is remarkable,” said John Amaechi, who was born in the US but brought up in Britain and became the first gay former NBA basketball player to speak openly about his sexuality, in February 2007.
Ian Bell, the England batsman, said sexuality was “absolutely not” a taboo issue in his sport. “I can't speak for other teams and other sports but for us as a group, it didn’t affect anything for Steve or any of the other lads. It helped him by speaking to the guys and, we just got on with it," Bell said. “He’s a fantastic cricketer and we are all with him.”