In 1990, Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer to come out as gay. He was also the first black footballer to command a £1million transfer fee, with his transfer from Norwich City to Nottingham Forest in 1981.
In 1998, aged 37, he chose to commit suicide in London, after fleeing an arrest warrant in America. The warrant was issued after a 17 year old accused Fashanu of sexual assault resulting in a lot of publicity and hostility striking his life. His suicide note stated that he felt he would not receive a fair trial due to his sexuality.
The death of Justin Fashanu sparked several campaign groups, one of which is still campaigning today. The Justin Campaign started an initiative called “Football v Homophobia” in 2010 with the aims of “to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation gender identity and expression at all levels of football”. This has since been taken over by LGBT Sports Development and Equity organisation Pride Sports www.pridesports.org.uk which continues to campaign for inclusion across all sports and includes a directory of gay friendly sports venues for people to attend.
Currently there is one out active professional footballer in the world; Anton Hysen of Sweden.