Comment: Gay slur timing couldn’t have been worse

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Fraser Mullen is a young man who has done something stupid. He is not the first and he certainly won’t be the last.

The difference between him and most other Edinburgh teenagers of course is that he is a Premiership footballer. And, yes, with that – as well as the high wages – does come a certain responsibility.

He is undoubtedly a role model to local children and what he says and does will influence what goes on in the city’s playgrounds and beyond the school gates.

There would have been no good time to make the kind of offensive comment that he did. It was plain wrong – and he readily admits it was “a mistake”.

But his timing could hardly have been worse given that it comes amid a high-profile campaign to tackle homophobia in the sport. The game’s stars have been asked to wear rainbow laces in their boots to show solidarity with gay players.

Comments like those made by Mullen – who referred to a gay man as a “poof” on the social networking site Twitter – undermine those efforts to portray football as a welcoming and inclusive 
sport.

We all know the reality that many within football – from fans to players and administrators – would not bat an eyelid at the kind of language he used or would happily use it themselves.

There is an attitude that exists within the game that it is a man’s sport and that somehow being gay makes someone less of a 
man.

In almost every other respect, football has moved on massively since the 1970s. Today, it is a global sport that transcends barriers of class, race and gender. It is watched in huge numbers by men, women and children. And with those spectators come the sponsors and their big bucks.

That means the financial rewards for Premiership stars are huge – and so quite rightly is the scrutiny.