Friday, 22 October 2010

Finally some honesty

Waking up this morning to a phone filled with unanswered texts and emails it was clear something had happened.

The reason: a frank and brutally honest interview by Chelsea's French winger Florent Malouda.

For those of you who have not seen the comments, they have been reproduced in full below.

When asked about homophobia in football he said:

"Before people couldn't even speak about that like they were rejecting it and saying it is not existing.

"People who do it are wrong, hiding behind religion to explain their behaviour against gays, but you have to accept people as they are and once you understand that, you understand our differences are our strength."

To reiterate, this is THE Florent Malouda, one of the best players in the world.

The significance of a top player admitting the denigration of people because of their sexuality cannot be understated.

Credit must also be given to the press team at Chelsea who did not think "oh no we cannot possibly publish this" but actually allowed a player to speak his mind.

Could it be that football club's attitudes are becoming more aligned to the rest of society?

In the interview, which focused on Kick It Out's One Game, One Community week of action, the eloquent Malouda was also very frank about fighting racism on the terraces.

He stated: "You have to prove to others they are wrong and don't accept it. You have to face these people and even if it is a battle, if you have to struggle, you have to prove that there is only one race and that they are wrong to doubt you.

"You have to speak about it. You cannot act like it does not exist."

These are statements about equality which have not been heard before from such a high profile player.

Quite why Malouda felt the need to issue such strong statements is not known.

The recent protesting in France shows that our Gallic cousins do things a little differently when it comes to disagreements with the authorities.

Perhaps it was Malouda, who was brought up in South America, feels he wants to give something back to the beautiful game to which he owes so much.

Or maybe the winger has witnessed homophobic abuse first hand.

It might just be that he sees now - he's 30, in the best form of his life and captain of his adopted country - as the right time to speak his mind.

Whatever the reason perhaps the tide, at last, is turning.

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