Gay referee quits the game after torrent of homophobic abuse
Homophobia in football is still a massive problem in the game.
Now Jesus Tomillero, one of Spain's most qualified officials, and the country's only openly gay referee, has been forced to quit the sport following a barrage of abuse during a game between Portuense and San Fernando Isleño last weekend.
Despite the fact that Jesus has been officiating since the age of 11, fans have continued to subject him to homophobia through the course of the season due to a public disagreement with a kit man last year.
He has now walked away from a promising career in the Andalucían regional league.
Guardian journalist Sid Lowe was the first to report the appalling comments in a his column this week when Tomillero insisted he couldn't "take any more":
"Soon after Tomillero gave a penalty, he says someone from among the visiting supporters shouted: “That’s that poof who was on the telly,” adding, “you can stick the goal up your arse, you fucking poof”.
The referee said the worst thing was that “everyone in the crowd laughed”. He communicated his decision to quit football to the Andalucian football federation soon after.”
Tomillero told the El Español newspaper: “The game was going on normally until the kit man of the local team got angry about an offside offence and began to protest from the sidelines without stopping.”
That's when he heard the taunt, "You’re a c**ksucker and you take it in the arse, you f**got. I’ll wait for you outside.”
To make matters worse, the reason Tomillero came out publicly last March was because he made a formal complaint against a kit man from Peña Madridista Linense in the under-19 league in Andalucía. The outcome of that was in a nine-game ban for the man - and a €30 fine.
The incident, which Jesus called "incredible", was the start of a relentless heckling campaign from opposition supporters that has been ongoing for the last 14 months.
It's a sad state of affairs to still see this kind of problem in 2016. There have been ongoing campaigns to try to tackle homophobia in sport, one of which was Stonewall's Rainbow Laces initiative.
Joey Barton was one of the high-profile stars to back that campaign, and something he wrote on this blog at the time is still, sadly, as relevant as ever:
"Casual verbal homophobia is still rife in the stands. Pull out of a tackle and you’re a ‘poof’. Overplay an injury and you’re told to stop ‘acting like a f*cking queer’. And I’ll be honest: it isn’t just the fans. Players use the same type of language on the pitch and on the training ground. It’s this off-the-cuff linguistic intolerance and thoughtlessness that makes the football industry in general, and football stadiums specifically, so intimidating for LGBT fans. I can’t imagine a gay couple feeling so comfortable at the acceptance of the football community that they’d be happy to wander down Wembley Way hand in hand, can you?"