Olympic champion Tom Daley will address the nation with a message of inclusion in Channel 4’s prestigious Alternative Christmas Message which airs on Christmas Day.
In the heartfelt address, Tom talks about the pride he’s felt representing his country but how sometimes didn’t feel good enough. He applauds the athletes that have opened up about their struggles this year who've encouraged him to talk about his mental health more often.
Tom reveals how “incredibly lucky” he is that his sport has supported him to live as an openly gay man, but he acknowledges not everyone in sport has the same backing. Using the platform to raise an issue close to his heart he speaks of homophobia in sport, particularly football.
In October Australian footballer Josh Cavallo became the first and only topflight male player to come out as gay. Tom praises Josh’s courage but uses this startling example to question why in the world’s most popular sport, with 65,000 professional players, just one top male footballer felt comfortable enough to come out and talk openly about their sexuality.
Tom talks about the need for a culture change in football, adding, 'if I had one Christmas wish it would be that next year that changes. That one impossibly brave Premier League player steps forward and says, ‘I am gay’. That person would inspire gay people everywhere, give hope to thousands of teenagers struggling with their sexuality and save the lives of countless young people who don't currently feel like they have a place in this world.”.
To emphasise the problem Tom raises “In 2022 the World Cup is being held in the second most dangerous country for queer people, Qatar. Why are we allowing places that aren’t safe for ALL fans and ALL players to host our most prestigious sporting events?”
Tom applauds how this year’s Olympics saw its first trans athletes competing referencing Quinn, the first out trans Olympic medallist who won gold for the Canadian women’s soccer team. Tom applauds the impressive achievements of trans athletes, “especially in the current climate of fear and panic around trans people” and adds that “there is no LGB without the T.”.
Tom closes with a call for inclusivity and equality saying “We can make this country the most accepting, the most inclusive, the most progressive country on Earth. What if in Britain anybody could be anything regardless of where they started? What if we all started from the same place. Now wouldn’t that be something to be proud of?”
Channel 4’s Director of Programmes, Ian Katz, comments “Tom Daley’s Olympic triumph made him one of the faces of 2021 and we are delighted that he is using The Alternative Christmas Message as a platform to speak out and raise an issue close to his heart – and ours. It is shocking and depressing that that our most popular sporting league remains an environment in which no gay player feels able to openly be themselves and we hope Tom’s message will make a small contribution to changing that.”
The Alternative Christmas Message, Christmas Day, 5pm on Channel 4 and All 4.