First Openly Gay Referee Says He Hopes His Story Will “Inspire Others”

10 August 2017, 18:44 | Updated: 22 August 2017, 15:07

The UK’s first openly gay referee has told LBC he hopes his story will be an inspiration to others in the future.

Ryan Atkin became football's first publicly “out” professional official in the UK after opening up about his sexuality on Thursday.

The 32-year-old told Iain Dale it had taken years to come to his decision, but hopes by sharing his story it will motivate others.

Ryan Atkin
Picture: LBC

He said: “Two years ago I actually got demoted in football, part of that was because of my performance on the pitch. Which in turn was because I wasn’t happy in myself.

“And there were a number of things that I had to address, one of them being my sexuality and part of that story that I’ve told is the key message of being yourself and you will excel and allow people to be something different.

“[It] has guided to me to think now is the time with all these things being put in place by the governing bodies to tell my story and hopefully inspire others.”

Meanwhile, Greg Dyke has told LBC he believes the UK will see its first openly gay professional footballer within the next “few years”.

Although a number of high-profile footballers have opened up about their sexuality after they’ve retired, there are currently no openly gay professional footballers in the English leagues.

However the former chairman told Iain it wouldn’t be long before that changed.

“It’s bound to happen within the next few years,” he said.

“I think one or two people have got to at some stage have the confidence to do it.

“I can understand why they don’t - they’re nervous aren’t they?

“Why did people not do it in politics for so many years when it was quite clear that there large numbers of gay politicians.”