Fan group slams fake Norwich City 'secret gay footballer' account
PUBLISHED: 15:45 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 23 July 2019
A Norwich City fan behind the club's LGBT+ supporters group has said a fake account which claimed to be run by a secretly gay Canaries player was "betraying people's optimism".
Di Cunningham, from Proud Canaries and Pride in Football, said the now-deleted account, @thatgaypro, was misleading fans who were keen for the sport to become a more diverse place.
Presenter and NCFC charity trustee Jake Humphrey tweeted on Tuesday morning to say sporting director Stuart Webber had confirmed the account was "a hoax and a fraud".
Activist Ms Cunningham, who flew a Three Lions Pride flag at the World Cup in Russia last year, said: "It started when an account called @FootballerGay launched, with around 40,000 followers.
"That seemed to spawn a lot of copy cat accounts, one of which was the Norwich account.
"It just looked so fake - there were barely any followers and the account wasn't following any LGBT+ organisations."
But despite initially deciding not to comment, when it became clear how many people believed the account was genuine Ms Cunningham shared her views on what she called the "blatant attention seeking" with Canaries fansite Along Come Norwich.
Speaking after the article was published, she said: "People were clearly believing it and it seemed like it was something where it was important to intervene.
"It wasn't for the club to say 'there's no gay footballer' because there may well be. We could have let it run its course, but it seemed if we didn't say something it would have been betraying people's hopes and good wishes."
She added: "The positive side of this is that people were expressing such positivity.
"We lament the fact that football doesn't have an out gay male player. People want football to change, they want it to be modern.
"To have not spoken out would have betrayed their optimism."
The only top flight male player to have come out as gay is still the tragic Norwich City star Justin Fashanu, whose niece Amal is now a patron of Proud Canaries.
And Ms Cunningham also praised the work the football club had done on inclusivity.
"With all the attention given to that account, it's important there is recognition of the work the club is doing," she added.