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England’s first openly gay referee is glad he doesn’t receive special treatment

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Ryan Atkin became the first openly gay referee in English football in 2017, and he’s glad that his personal preferences have not become an obstacle between him and his job.

In 2017, Ryan Atkin became the first gay referee in English football, and while there’s a lot of talk about racism and discrimination lately, he’s glad he hasn’t suffered anything like that so far in his career.

“Nothing has changed for me personally. I’m more of an advocate for LGBTs within the sport, in general, I go into quite a few schools now and talk about sport and equality and diversity – but I haven’t been treated any differently,” he told The Telegraph.

“It has helped me to be who I am, and I think that’s reflected by the observations that I’ve had where I’ve received greater praise in the assessments from the bodies.”

“When I’m dealing with players, or I’m dealing with situations on the field of play, it’s actually really me rather than referee Ryan putting his hat on,” he added.

“I’m given my whole self to something rather than 98 percent – and that two percent can make a massive difference, especially in sport.”

He explained: “My short-term goal is to get to the Football League. My long-term goal would be to get to the Premier League.”

“Football does need individuals to step up. We’ve seen it within athletics, we’ve seen it within rugby where you’ve got key figures now who are champions of it, and I think football now needs that.”

“There is a lot of data that is missing around diversity and inclusion,” he insists. “This needs to come from the leagues, it’s got to come from the people at the top wanting to drive equality.”