“In women’s football it’s just never an issue.”
Jill Scott has discussed how difficult it is for players to come out as gay in men’s football, and the contrast there is between the men’s and women’s games on this matter.
In Monday night’s episode of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Jill and her fellow campmates Seann Walsh and Boy George were discussing when the singer knew he was gay.
George said: “I find it’s more other people ask about it, I’m busy being myself.
“They often ask, ‘When did you know you were gay?’ It was kind of gradual I think. For me it was other kids calling me a girl… ‘You’re a girl’.
“I knew if I announced it I’d be immediately unpopular in the playground, but inside of me, I absolutely thought it was totally normal and this is what’s meant to be.”
Seann then asked Jill: “In women’s football, coming out and homosexuality, is it more open? As obviously that is a problem in men’s football.”
Jill said: “I think in the men’s game, it’s so difficult.
“If you think about how much stick they get from the chants… it’s just not a safe environment where they feel safe enough to kind of do that. And that’s so sad.
“But in women’s football it’s just never an issue. Some have partners that are female, some are married to men”
Jill is herself gay, and is engaged to her long-term partner Shelly Unitt.
Speaking about how important role models are for youngsters, the England legend added: “Obviously there was no female role models for me to look up to… But I’d watch Beckham do a trick or Gerrard do something and I’d just be practising for hours.
“I was literally in the back lanes just with my ball all day all night until my mum would shout, ‘Jill it’s time for your tea’ and then I’d be back out again because I wanted to perfect this skill.”
Jill continued: “And now I’ll put on my own soccer camps and the girls have the female players on the back of their shirt.”
Continuing the discussion of idols, Boy George said: “I think, for me, Bowie was the beginning of me going, ‘Oh my god, I’m not alone.’
“It didn’t matter whether he was gay, straight or bisexual, he was a massive role model.”