Rio Ferdinand says gay male player told him he was advised not to come out

Rio Ferdinand has said that a gay male player was advised not to come out publicly by a lawyer.

The former Manchester United defender was speaking to a joint parliamentary committee who were taking views about the government drafted Online Safety Bill.

The Bill intends to create new legal framework for the identification and removal of harmful content on the Internet.

On Wednesday, Ferdinand’s brother Anton, as well as former footballers Lianne Sanderson and Marvin Sordell, gave evidence on their experiences of online abuse.

Rio Ferdinand spoke about the abuse he received and the impact it had on his family, claiming he saw family members “disintegrate” after seeing abuse.

He also discussed the issue of homophobia in football, and went on to cite one specific example of a player that had been advised not to come out publicly.

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Ferdinand speaks to parliamentary committee

Ferdinand explained: “I’ve just met currently a player who had come out, and he was advised by his lawyer not to come out and speak.

“I initially said, ‘you need to come out and speak your truth and be proud of who you are’.

“The reason why the lawyer advised him not to come out is because every individual is very different and you can’t use a blanket approach. Every individual is at a different stage of their life in understanding themselves and their sexuality.

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“[The lawyer] advised them based on his experience with that individual, and he didn’t think that he was strong enough mentally at that time, and had the right pieces in place to able to withstand the media attention and the spotlight, all of the different emotions that’s going to come out and pressures to deal with that situation at that moment in time.”

The Director of International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Football Association, Edleen John, said that the FA are doing “everything that we can” to create “a culture of inclusivity for all individuals”.

She added: “We’re proactively striving to make sure that all players, all participants across our game feel as though they are welcome, are respected and feel a sense of belonging.

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“We are working with the various football leagues, the various football clubs to make sure that we are having that engagement, we are having education sessions, we are talking about campaigns and making sure we are clear that our message is that football is absolutely for all.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty