Posted by News Express | 15 January 2014 | 4,405 times
The tragic end of the life of Nigerian-British football star Justin Fashanu has re-echoed in Britain, with The Observer, the stablemate of The Guardian of London, focusing on it in an article on the ordeal of gay footballers.
The article entitled ‘When will football kick out bigotry once and for all?’ declares that years after his death, “The memory of Justin Fashanu still shames the game.” In it respected sports journalist Kevin McKenna wrote:
“Working in Edinburgh in 1993, many of us were entertained by the mini-drama that arrived in the city following the transfer of Justin Fashanu to Heart of Midlothian FC. Fashanu was once a very fine footballer who had excelled for Norwich City in the English First Division and seemed destined for a rewarding international career.
“He was a bright, happy and handsome man with a gorgeous smile who had emerged from a Barnardo’s home and possessed the pleasing habit of sticking the ball in the pokey on a regular basis. By the time he reached Hearts though, he was almost broken following years of abuse and loathing by the football community after he had declared his homosexuality a few years before.
“At Nottingham Forest, where he should have enjoyed some of the best years of his career, Fashanu ran into Brian Clough, a man of a generation which was simply bewildered by homosexuality. Even so, Clough, a revered figure in British football, seems to have been proud of cruelly baiting his young charge on hearing of his reported visits to gay nightclubs.”
The writer recalled that “Fashanu hanged himself just a few years later, having been disowned by his own brother and his fellow professionals and with an unproven charge of sexual assault haunting him in the US, where he had fled to try to revive his career in a more enlightened environment.”
McKenna lamented that “Justin Fashanu died in 1998 at the age of 37, reviled and alone. His death bore witness to football’s collective inhumanity towards gay people, yet few of us felt ashamed.
“Sixteen years later, we find that little has changed in enlightened and compassionate Britain.”
Incidentally, same sex relations is currently a big issue in Justin Fashanu’s country of origin, Nigeria, where a law has just come into force prescribing upwards of 14 years in jail for same sex offences.
•Photo shows late Justin Fashanu.
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