Iker Casillas and the tweet that helps maintain a silence in men’s football | Jonathan Liew

A post from Spaniard’s account about coming out led to ‘a stupid joke’ and vitriol but what hidden damage was done?

It was just a joke when Brian Clough said it, too. Very little footage of the short-lived mid‑1990s ITV panel show Sport In Question has survived to the present day. But there is one widely shared clip in which Clough, then a couple of years out of management, is asked by an audience member whether he feels responsible for transfer fee inflation. “I feel responsible for Justin Fashanu!” retorts Clough, with a wicked glint in his eye, as the audience crackles with laughter. “It took me about three months to twig him. But I twigged him.”

Yes: just a little gag on primetime television about a footballer being gay, without the faintest hint of distaste or pushback. At least two decades later, in 2014, when Terry Venables chuckled that he and Clough had looked like a “pair of woofters” when they walked out hand in hand before the 1991 FA Cup final – just a joke, of course – the Sky Sports presenter Ben Shephard had the presence of mind to issue an instant apology. And it was just a joke when Ian Wright went on the radio just before the 2018 World Cup and responded to a comment about Russia’s institutionalised hostility to gay people by quipping: “I won’t wear a dress, then.” Wright expressed regret for his “ill-judged remark” after being reminded of his responsibilities by the BBC.

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