Former soccer player John Fashanu has opened up about his relationship with his brother, the late Justin Fashanu.
Justin was the first soccer player in the English Premier League to come out as gay. He played between 1978 and 1997, with his peak career at Nottingham Forest and Notts County in the early 1980s.
He came out as gay in an interview with The Sun in 1990, but experienced considerable backlash. This included his own brother, John, who said at the time that his brother had made himself an ‘outcast’.
Justin died through suicide in 1998. No English soccer player has since come out of the closet.
John Fashanu, 55, who also enjoyed a professional soccer career, has spoken before about how difficult he found his brother’s coming out. Last year he revealed that he paid his brother £75,000 ($106,500/€86,000) to persuade him to stay in the closet.
‘I was a monster to Justin back then’
He appeared on ITV show Good Morning Britain today to talk about bigotry in football, including racism and homophobia. He admitted to a lack of education had led to him reacting badly when Justin publicly revealed he was gay.
‘It was a lack of education. I was a monster to Justin back then,’ he told hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid.
‘I paid him £75,000 not to say he was gay. I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation.
‘As I said, it was a lack of education. We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.
‘In retrospective, in hindsight, it’s not something I would do now. We have all moved on hence the reason why many, many mistakes were made there with Justin and we were not getting on.’
He is now urging the Football Association to do more to tackle homophobia in soccer and to do what it can to encourage players to come out. He said he believes there could be seven current players who are in the closet but who are fearful because they think ‘their empires would crumble’ if they came out.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) April 18, 2018