A gay footballer has claimed attitudes to homosexuality in the sport are improving but a message needs to be sent to those who will hurl homophobic abuse regardless.
Jim Hearson was speaking to Sam Delaney after Cleethorpes Town midfielder Liam Davis, who is also gay, said football is becoming increasingly progressive and other gay and bi footballers should feel confident in coming out.
Hearson, a defender and communications officer at LGBT-friendly football club London Titans FC, told Sam Delaney footballers have "got so many fans that could potentially be hurling abuse at them."
However he added that, "whilst it would be very useful for other professionals and amateur players alike [for a big name player to come out] it really does depend on the individual and whether they think they can take it and if they've got the support that they need."
He believes the attitude to homosexuality in football is "definitely getting better. Football does follow society and society is improving, but football does often lag behind."
Despite this he added: "I think that society and football are changing sufficiently...there are now more than 30 LGBT supporters' groups that go to matches.
"They give a visibility to LGBT people in the stadium. I think that's really important because in the past people just assumed 'there's no gay people here, I can say what I want.'"
Sam asked whether those who shout homophobic abuse should get stadium bans, Hearson said rules do "need to come down hard and that should deter the element who can’t be persuaded because there's always going to be some who will carry on regardless and a message needs to be sent out to those kind of people."
Listen to the full interview above