The Sun newspaper is facing huge backlash after publishing an interview with the lover of a closeted bi Premier League soccer star on Friday (11 May).
While the journalist doesn’t identify either the lover or the soccer player, the article features extensive quotes from the lover.
In it, they describe the soccer star as having a child with a female long-term partner. But when the closeted bisexual soccer star met his lover at a club, they began having an affair.
Many are calling the story and headline ‘sensationalist’ and ‘insidious.’
One such commentator is Premier League soccer referee Ryan Atkin, who came out as gay in August last year.
So proud of my Referee mates who supported #rainbowlaces #thegameforall #LGBT. They were the first ref colleagues I told before my public announcement and they could not have been more supportive!! As @SpyRight said when I told him “it is not 1970” 😂 @stonewalluk @FA ⚽🌈 pic.twitter.com/jS3vfUTb98
— Ryan Atkin (@ryantatkin) 3 December 2017
He told Indy100: ‘Publishing the story with the underlying theme of a potential sex scandal is just another low blow, whether they print the name or not.’
‘It’s that typical “we know who you are” statement, which is insidious,’ he said.
The Sun’s story explains their relationship has died down now but the pair would meet regularly for sex.
Atkin then said: ‘The more people that come out, the easier it becomes for others. But speculation around the sexual orientation of professional footballers is one thing we really need to stop.’
Social media backlash
It’s a sentiment echoed by many social media users when the story broke on Friday online, then in print yesterday.
Liverpool’s gay football team, the Mersey Marauders Football Club took to Twitter to express their disappointment.
They tweeted: ‘The Sun and Daily Mail peddling their homophobic agenda again. Trying to make headlines about “closeted” gay football players having “affairs” – the tabloids want to make you feel like it’s headline news to be gay, or that it is somewhat associated with shame and scandal.
‘They are using sensationalist reporting to reinforce their own agenda and stereotyping,’ Mersey Marauders FC tweeted.
We were asked by The Sun to comment on their piece on a Bi footballer; here’s why we refused: pic.twitter.com/7I0O1JZcHE
— PrideinFootball🏳️🌈⚽ (@prideinfootball) 12 May 2018
Pride in Football tweeted: ‘Shame on The Sun and on Football that in 2018, a player being LGBT is a ‘juicy story’.
‘Footballers should be able to be as open about who they love as anyone else,’ they said.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘I have no words to properly describe my absolute loathing for The Sun.’