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Rylan Clark to explore homophobia in football in documentary

Rylan Clark will explore homophobia in football in a new documentary.

The TV star will share his own personal experiences growing up as a football fan and member of the LGBTQ+ community in the one-off programme, which will feature interviews with sports stars Thomas Hitzlsperger, Rio Ferdinand and Jen Beattie.

Clark was raised as a West Ham fan, and was a member of the Junior Hammers supporters’ club growing up, but quickly felt pushed out of the game as a result of homophobic attitudes.

Rylan: Homophobia, Football And Me will investigate why football is not always a welcoming community for gay men, examining the effects of homophobia on those exposed to it.

Rylan Clark with Jen Beattie (Warner Bros Discovery)
Rylan Clark with Jen Beattie (Warner Bros Discovery)

The documentary, which will stream on discovery+ and air on TNT Sports 1, will be released to coincide with LGBT History Month.

Clark will speak to former Aston Villa and Germany midfielder Hitzlsperger about his experience coming out as a gay man following his retirement.

Former England star and pundit Ferdinand will discuss his own use of a homophobic slur live on BBC Radio 1 and how his attitudes have since changed, while Arsenal women’s player Beattie will explain the differing attitudes to homosexuality within the female game.

Clark said: “Growing up loving football and being a West Ham fan, I always assumed that I’d be able to go to games whenever I wanted as I got older.

“But as time moved on and as a gay man, I sometimes felt uncomfortable around spectators at games. I’m not one to be easily offended but some of the language and insults that are used on a daily basis by football crowds made going to games almost impossible, especially as I got more and more known and started having them directed at me.

“This documentary aims to highlight that football is for everyone regardless of what you get up to in your private life.

“I talk to fans, players, past and present, about how the beautiful game could be even prettier for everyone to enjoy, and how as fans we can change to help make players feel comfortable sharing their sexuality if they wish to do so.”

Rylan Clark with Rio Ferdinand (Warner Bros Discovery)
Rylan Clark with Rio Ferdinand (Warner Bros Discovery)

Ferdinand, who is now a pundit for TNT Sports, said: “Discrimination in any form has no place in society and it has been confronting to hear what Rylan has had to endure as a gay man who simply wanted to go and support his local football team.

“As a young man, I was guilty of flippantly using words and phrases that I recognise were completely wrong and it’s something I open up to Rylan about in the documentary. Contributing to the documentary and speaking to Rylan at length was an education in itself to gain an insight into his world.”

Rylan: Homophobia, Football And Me will be available to stream on discovery+ from February 13 and will premiere on TNT Sports 1 at 10.30pm following live coverage of the Uefa Champions League Round of 16 first leg fixture between FC Copenhagen and Manchester City on the same channel.