Hector Bellerin and football’s tolerance problem

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TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh tackles one of football’s uncomfortable home truths…

There was a depressing air of familiarity in some of the responses to Hector Bellerin’s recent appearance at London Fashion Week. The Arsenal defender was photographed in the front row of the event, wearing something that looked a little like a dressing gown, with a pair of Gucci slippers. Rather than simply acknowledging a young footballer might want to do something interesting in the capital on a rare evening out, some publications cut a more vicious tone.

Commenting on Bellerin’s outfit, The Sportsman tweeted, “Get him in the bin, shocking that”. Scottish site Talking Baws wrote, “his latest outing saw him arrive in WOMEN’S pyjamas” (the emphasis is theirs). Others tweeted “She’s lost the fucking plot” and “What a twat”.

What is it that the football community finds so offensive about a confident, cosmopolitan young man enjoying himself? The insinuation here is pretty obvious. In wearing clothes that are a little ostentatious and more flamboyant than the average footballer or fan’s, Bellerin is seen to have crossed the threshold of what is considered acceptable masculinity. Between the lines, they’re saying: it’s not straight, ergo he’s gay. Continue reading

British footballer Robin Shroot making strides in Norway


This interview was originally published in April 2015 for Moresport

Robin Shroot’s career in England was stalling, and he knew it. In any profession, it’s important to keep testing yourself and improving your skills, even if that means a change in direction. Shroot was earning a comfortable salary at Stevenage but internal politics and managerial changes left him out of the side and in search of a new challenge. He found it in the most unlikely of locations: western Norway.

“I was deemed surplus to requirements at Stevenage. I think I just obviously wasn’t the manager’s cup of tea which was fair enough”, Shroot reflects. “I trained with the kids for six months”. At 26 years-old, he felt he’d reached a crossroads in his career and was desperate to play for a club with a more technical approach to the game.

Faced with several unappealing loan moves, Shroot decided instead to cancel his contract and go it alone. Having made one brave decision, he took another and cast his eye further afield in an attempt to fulfil a lifelong ambition of playing abroad. “The opportunity came up to go to Sarpsborg, Brian Deane’s club. I went there for a week and it was great”, he recalls of his first experience in Norway. Deane and his assistant Ian Burchnall, who is now at Viking Stavanger, were a huge help and he took to his new environment immediately. “It was really refreshing to experience a new football culture and I really enjoyed it.” Continue reading