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Conor Coady exclusive: Openly gay player at top level would be accepted "without a doubt"

Conor Coady exclusive: Openly gay player at top level would be accepted "without a doubt"

Leicester City and England defender Conor Coady believes players would have no problem with a teammate coming out as gay.

England star Conor Coady believes a top level player coming out as gay would be accepted in a dressing room but called for more work to be done in tackling homophobia in football.

Coady, who recently signed for Leicester City from Wolves, won the Football Ally Award in the 2021 British LGBT Awards and has been very vocal about the topic.

He is now supporting the Allies United, an initiative which has seen Just Eat partner with Football vs Homophobia in a bid to increase LGBTQIA+ inclusivity within the grassroots game.

The aim is to create hundreds of “ally clubs” through free courses and workshops and comes after a Just Eat survey found that over three quarters (78%) of people from the LGBTQIA+ community would not consider playing grassroots football.


In the professional game, 18-year-old Blackpool striker Jake Daniels bravely came out in May 2022, becoming the first openly gay player to do so since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Daniels received support from England captain Harry Kane and said his decision was "the best thing I ever did".

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

At the very highest level in English football there has still not been a player who has felt able to come out publicly.

However, referencing the changing rooms he has been involved in, Coady is adamant that there would be no issue whatsoever if it was to be the case.

“Without a doubt because there's that many characters, that many strong characters within dressing rooms," he told SPORTbible.

“There’s that many characters now within the game who understand the privileged position they find themselves in and understand what football has given them.

“And I can tell you that first hand from sharing a dressing room with different individuals with hundreds of players at a time, they’ll all be the same as me so one hundred percent, without a shadow of a doubt.

“That’s what we want it to get to, where people can live life the way they live life and come and enjoy football.

“I think we're certainly heading to a more open place and a place where you don't really want people suffering in silence a little bit. If I'm being honest, I think that's what it is - and suffering that they can speak out, or they can't say this, or they can't say that.

“I can speak on behalf of myself and the dressing rooms I've been involved in and certainly the dressing room I’m involved in now, is that it wouldn't matter. It would not matter.

“We just want people to enjoy our game and enjoy what we do every single day and if there’s not people not enjoying that, then there's a problem.

“Speaking on behalf of where I am, I think we’d be open to anything happening. And we need to put that across more and more.

“There are strides being taken, but there's obviously a long way to go and where we can get to.”

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

The aforementioned also uncovered a number of other worrying statistics. While 90 per cent of grassroots football clubs say they welcome anyone no matter their sexual orientation or how they identify, 18 per cent of the LGBTQIA+ community said they would not feel confident in playing football because of concerns over homophobic and transphobic language used.

In addition, 15 per cent cited a lack of feeling welcomed as a member of the community as a factor, with 14 per cent stressing there is not enough conversation around LGBTQIA+ allyship.

“It’s worrying because you don’t want people to think that way," Coady said on the statistics the research uncovered.

“I’m not going to lie about it, yeah it was used and something that was said growing up. This is game we should all love and enjoy around the world. It’s the biggest sport in the world.

“I'd hate to think that my children didn't want to go to football because they were thinking certain things, or they were hiding things, or they wouldn't tell me as a parent, or they wouldn't tell their friends, or they wouldn't tell the coach or whatever that may be. I'd hate to think that. And I'd hate to think it with other people as well.

“You want it to be a place where football is enjoyed by everybody. That’s where I believe we’re heading but we want to get closer to where we need to be.

"I think if we can help grassroots teams at any point with any education at any time, I think we should try and do it and try and push as much as we possibly can.”

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Former Wolves and Everton man Coady has made 176 appearances in the Premier League and has been capped 10 times by England.

Communication is among his strongest qualities and is something that was instilled in him by his Dad when he was playing for Rainford Rangers at the age of five, before training with both Everton and Liverpool.

He's an excellent talker on the pitch and in interview but most admirably he's using his platform to talk about genuinely important issues and trying to initiate change.

The 30-year-old was praised for his work as "an ally" but what exactly does it mean to fulfil that role in a positive manner?

Image: PA
Image: PA

He explained: “I think it’s just being a good person to be honest. The first time it came about was a few years ago and I got asked about it in an interview and people will probably tell me not all people answer it the way I did, I answered it in the way I thought everybody else would answer it.

"If I'm being honest in terms of kind of speaking about football and what football has given me. But then also thinking about the way other people think towards football and that you want everybody to enjoy it. I want everybody to enjoy it.

“It's given me my whole life and I’d love other people to get out of it what I've got I out of it. It kind of snowballed from there into in terms of being an ally. The biggest thing about it for me is being able to listen to people, being able to offer advice, being able to offer kind a helping hand a little bit and just say, ‘Listen, I'm a footy player, and I can speak on behalf of myself in the dressing rooms I've been involved in and we welcome anybody into the game.’”

The campaign is focusing on grassroots clubs in the United Kingdom but a big talking point at the moment is the number of players heading towards Saudi Arabia, who are making a huge splash in world football.

Coady's former Wolves teammate Ruben Neves signed for Al Hilal in a £47 million switch, while Steven Gerrard took the Al Ettifaq job.

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is reportedly closing in on a mammoth deal from Ettifaq, prompting opposition and criticism from LGBT fan group 'Kop Outs' given he has effectively been an ally to the community.

Though the tourism board has said they welcome LGBTQ+ visitors to the country, same-sex relationships are still illegal and concerns about how the members of the community are treated remain present.

Coady didn't feel as though he could offer much of a viewpoint on the subject but touched on the need to improve things better on these shores.

He commented: “I'll be honest that’s a tough one for me to speak about. I think it's something where the countries live different ways to us, that's how they live.

“I think it's hard for me to speak about how the country will live, I would never sit here and say that this is right, and this is wrong. We live by a certain way in this country and and we want to try and make it better for people within this country. And that's what we'll try and do.

“But what I will say is that from our own point of view, we're trying to make things better. And we're trying to make things the way we feel it should be as people living in England, people living in our country."

To apply to join Allies United with Just Eat and Football vs Homophobia, visit for details on how to make your team more inclusive.

Featured Image Credit: PA & JustEat

Topics: Conor Coady, England, Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester City