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U.K.'s Man City scores for gay rights

By RealJock Staff

While there are no out gay football players in the United Kingdom, the Manchester City (appropriately nicknamed "Man City") wants to make a welcome environment for gay football, players, employees and fans.

The Manchester City team is hiring gay people to work at its stadium and training facility as well as reaching out to the city's gay and lesbian community, the U.K. Observer reports.

The club is the first football club to join a list of employers recognized as gay-friendly by Stonewall, the gay rights campaign group. The companies on this list follow policies designed to recruit and retain gay personnel, according to a report in the Observer.

"We want to send a welcoming message to gay, lesbian and bisexual supporters, be inclusive and be a progressive employer," Alistair Mackintosh, the club's chief executive, told the Observer.

The Football Association, which aims to put homophobia in the penalty box for good, lauded Man City's move. "The fact that a high-profile Premiership club are taking this step to break down barriers is clearly positive and hopefully other clubs will follow their lead," a Football Association spokesman told the Observer.

Several other teams have shown interest in promoting diversity, Ben Summerskill, Stonewall's chief executive, told the Observer.

"We are delighted that Manchester City are being brave enough to be the first club to put its head above the parapet by saying publicly that they are interested," Summerskill told the Observer. "Many gay and lesbian football fans have experienced being at grounds where even if they aren't picked on themselves, the abuse towards players is intimidating. Those fans want an indication of where they are likely to feel most welcome and City have given that indication."