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Taylor claims gay issue 'not easy' for stars

Players' chief Gordon Taylor has defended professional footballers following claims that no big names would agree to appear in a video to launch a campaign against homophobia.

According to a report in The Independent, players and agents have turned down a request by the Professional Footballers' Association to take part in a video to spearhead the drive.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor told the newspaper: "Everybody assumes footballers are full of confidence, but it is not easy on issues like this.

"Remember there was a time when even black players did not feel they could talk about race."

Taylor remains committed to breaking the taboo.

He told the PFA website, www.givemefootball.com: "The PFA are proud of our work in the field of anti-racism demonstrating that in football we are all united regardless of race, colour or creed.

"The English game is a beacon of diversity with players from many backgrounds, countries and continents demonstrating their skills on the field of play.

"It is unacceptable for them to be subjected to abusive chanting be it racist or homophobic whilst they play.

"It is vital that we continue to work towards eradicating all forms of discrimination including homophobia. I applaud the ongoing work in this area."

Former England and Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux is one player who was singled out for homophobic abuse, although he is not gay, and spoke out about how it affected his life in his autobiography.

Le Saux wrote: "Because I had different interests, because I didn't feel comfortable in the laddish drinking culture that was prevalent in English football in the late 1980s, it was generally assumed by my team-mates that there was something wrong with me. It followed, naturally, that I must be gay.

"For 14 years I had to listen to that suggestion repeated in vivid and forthright terms from thousands of voices in the stands. It was a lie. I am not gay and never have been, yet I became a victim of English football's last taboo.

"The homophobic taunting and bullying left me close to walking away from football. I went through times that were like depression. I did not know where I was going.

"I would get up in the morning and would not feel good and by the time I got into training I would be so nervous that I felt sick. I dreaded going in. I was like a bullied kid on his way to school to face his tormentors."