Premier League dressing rooms are ready for a gay player, says Jermaine Jenas

England footballer turned broadcaster Jermaine Jenas has told PRWeek's sports podcast The Line that the Premier League's dressing rooms would happily accept a gay player.

Jenas' media profile is growing fast, with work including a column for GQ (image via @jjenas8 on Twitter)
Jenas' media profile is growing fast, with work including a column for GQ (image via @jjenas8 on Twitter)

However, the ex-international believes that the major barrier to a top player coming out is the abuse they would be likely to face.

Speaking on the latest edition of The Line, Jenas said it was in some ways unfortunate that football was such a territorial, emotional world.

"I say unfortunately, it's a side of the game I love, this territorial element, but this creates hate, we see it on the terraces every weekend," he said, commenting that fans use their voice in the stadium to try to wear down opponents. "Fans try to eliminate a [rival] player because they see him as a threat."

While some footballers and other sportsmen have come out as gay after retiring from full-time sport, homosexuality within male team sports remains a touchy subject - especially since 1980s star Justin Fashanu, the most high-profile previous example of an out player, was vilified and later committed suicide.

"I think there are players within dressing rooms that are fine with it," he told PRWeek of the prospect of a gay player in a Premier League team. "For me the problem comes when he steps over that white line and yes he's part of a team, but he's on his own, and the chants start... it's going to take a very brave footballer."

In a wide-ranging interview, Jenas talks about his expectations of the upcoming football World Cup in Russia, where he will travel with the BBC, the personal branding and charity work of modern players, and his memories of the 2006 World Cup, which he attended as part of the England squad.

At that tournament, players' families and wives became subject to significant media scrutiny, as they were staying near the team in the same hotel as many journalists, something which soured relations. "A lot of players never forgot that," he said.

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