SOME football fans believe having a gay player would make "other team members feel uncomfortable" and that they should keep their sexuality to themselves.

Hertfordshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Football Association teamed up to survey 400 of the country's football fans on their attitudes to gay and lesbian players, as well as their experiences of homophobia in the game.

The results of the poll, released at an event at Watford Football Club in Vicarage Road, showed 10 per cent of supporters believe players would feel awkward if they had a gay colleague, and 10 per cent say they should not reveal their sexuality.

In addition, 19 per cent did not feel gay footballers should come out to help others do the same, and 14 per cent would not want a transgender player.

But 86 per cent of people said they would not mind if their favourite club signed a new gay player, and 81 per cent disagreed that homophobic chanting at a match is acceptable.

Meanwhile, 45 per cent of people heard homophobic abuse at a football match in the last three years.

In terms of how football clubs and police should respond to homophobia in the game and the reporting of offences, 61 per cent of fans agreed football clubs should do more to educate fans about homophobia and 20 per cent stated they would not feel comfortable to report the offence if they became a victim at a match.

A total of 94 per cent also felt that football clubs and police should take action to tackle homophobic abuse by either arresting offenders, removing and banning them from grounds, giving them strong words of words of advice and referring them to the police.

The survey was carried out in the run up to the 2018 World Cup and 400 of the county's football fans responded.

Representatives from the Football Association (The FA), LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall, Watford FC - and their Community Sports and Education Trust – and Watford FC’s Proud Hornets attended the event. Two of the Constabulary’s Hate Crime Officers and LGBT+ Liaison officers attended, along with representatives from Royston Town FC, Stevenage FC, Hitchin Town FC, Hemel Hempstead Town FC, St Albans City FC, Watford Ladies and Kings Langley FC.

As a result of the survey findings, Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Hertfordshire FA have pledged to work together to take a permanent stance against homophobia in the game and permanently make it a thing of the past.

The organisations will now work together to create Third Party Reporting Centres in each of the football clubs in the county.

These centres will enable victims of any form of hate crime, including homophobia, to report offences immediately without having to talk directly to police if they don’t feel comfortable.

Sam Gillings, lead equality officer for Watford Football Club said: “We are delighted to not only be the host venue for this campaign but also to work with campaigners and organisations promoting inclusion within the Watford family and local community, with the aim of helping to continue the fight against homophobia within football.”

Callum Ellis, Hitchin Town FC Community Coach, said: “During the time I have been involved in football in the county I have frequently had vile homophobic abuse directed at me and players I have coached. I therefore welcome Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Hertfordshire FA undertaking this research and shining a spot light on the real issues of homophobia in the game."

Chief Superintendent Matthew Nicholls, Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Lead for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity said: “Whilst our survey has revealed some positive attitudes to having gay, lesbian and transgender players in the game - and to challenging homophobia in football - the results also demonstrate this prejudice still exists.

“Additionally not only are there still currently no openly gay male players in English football, even the Football Supporters Federation has recently warned LGBT+ supporters to not openly display their sexuality if they are attending the World Cup**. Therefore clearly the police and the country’s footballing community need to do more to change this.

“We are keen to reach a stage where homophobia in football is a thing of the past and that fans and players from the LGBT+ community can attend and play matches without fear of being their true selves.

"To achieve this we will continue to work with the Hertfordshire FA to get the message across that homophobia in football is unacceptable and considered a hate crime."

Report homophobia to the police, the Football Association, your local club or via the ‘Kick it Out’app.”