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02nd Jun 2022

Scottish referee Craig Napier comes out as gay and wants ‘to see the climate change’

Daniel Brown

Scottish referee gay

‘It’s something that I never thought I’d be sitting here doing’

Craig Napier has become the first Scottish referee to come out publicly as gay, following footballers Josh Cavallo and Jake Daniels in coming out.

The category one official stated that he was inspired by the pair’s decision and believes it is time “to see the climate change” within football.

“It’s something that I never thought I’d be sitting here doing,” Napier told the Scottish FA.

“It’s something I’ve obviously lived with for a long time. It’s been a difficult journey to get to this point. It’s really important that people like me are willing to sit here and do this.

“I don’t think this needs to be a news story but I think at the moment, it really does because we need to see the climate change so that people do feel that they can be their true self and live happily and comfortable in their own skin. And then that needs to transcend into football.”

Napier took charge of 32 SPFL and domestic cup fixtures during the 2021/22 season, but he also works for the NHS while not refereeing. 

He revealed that he had “never had a bad experience when I’ve had these conversations”.

“I’ve always felt so much lighter after speaking about it,” he added

“This isn’t a conversation about me, this is a conversation about trying to change the culture in Scottish football.

“There is something about football, there’s still that barrier. Hopefully here in Scotland I can play a small part in hoping that it can inspire whoever is out there to be more comfortable in who they are and have the conversations with their family, their friends, their team-mates and come out publicly if they feel able to.”

Cavallo, 22, plies his trade for Australian club Adelaide United and came out in October 2021 – which made him the only currently openly gay top-flight male professional player in the world.

Last month, Daniels, 17, who plays for Championship side Blackpool, announced that he is gay. He was the first professional in the UK men’s game for more than 30 years to come out while still playing.

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