EFL referee James Adcock comes out as gay and says colleagues are “proud”

EFL referee James Adcock has come out as gay and says colleagues are "proud" of him for feeling able to share his sexuality.

Adcock, 37, will be familiar face – if not name – to football supporters around the country.

He has refereed more than 500 matches in a career that has taken him from the amateur ranks all the way to the Premier League.

Having initially combined officiating with his job as a PE teacher, Adcock was appointed to the EFL's Select Group 2 in 2016, making him a full-time referee who took charge of matches in the Championship, League One and League Two.

The experienced whistler was in the middle for 14 matches last season, including Stoke City vs Blackpool in the EFL Cup and Manchester City's U21s' 4-0 win over Shrewsbury in the EFL Trophy.

Adcock didn't come out until he was 27, but now all of his colleagues know and have been supportive of his decision.

"As I was going from part-time to full-time in football, some knew and some didn't," Adcock told the BBC's LGBT Sport Podcast.

"Now all my colleagues know, and it's just the norm. And, to be honest, there's been interest from colleagues saying, 'I'm proud of you James, that you're able to be openly gay in sport,' because they know the barriers that are still in place.

"They're fully supportive and don't change the way they are around me or the way they speak to me because they thought I was a heterosexual guy, and now they find out I'm a gay guy.

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"I don't need to wear a T-shirt saying: 'I'm James Adcock and I'm a gay guy.' People know and just accept it.

"I've not had any homophobic abuse thrown at me, and I can't tell you a story where I've had to combat or overcome that."

Adcock is the highest-level make official to to speak publicly about his sexuality in English football, following Ryan Atkin, who came out in 2017.

Now he is looking to encourage others who might find themselves in a similar situation, and hopes that speaking openly about his sexuality won't change the way he is viewed when he next takes charge of a Football League game.

He wants to be treated just the same as as anyone else would, whether that be player or official- on his performance on the pitch.

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