Footballers as public figures have always attracted the eyes and ears from all over the globe. Over the years, players have been measured for their profiles on and off the pitch with equal intensity.
USWNT star and former Ballon d’Or winner Meghan Rapinoe received plaudits for her ability to balance these connected but separate performances on and off the field. Having led the USWNT to World Cup victories in 2015 and 2019, the American has also fought against discriminatory social issues such as unequal pay for male and female athletes as well as inequality based on sexual orientation.
The latter has been a major obstacle in sports and society in the United States that prevented a lot of athletes from coming out in public. While there are individuals and groups such as Rapinoe who work to attain equality, these efforts are often matched by conservative populations in the US who are against the idea of giving LGBTQIA people space and a voice in society.
This week entertainment giant Disney came under fire for protesting against the “Parents Rights in Education” bill in the state of Florida, which as per reports allows the education system in Florida (teachers) not to speak on gender identity and sexual orientation to children below the third grade.
Disney Corporate President Karey Burke responded to this by committing to represent 50% of characters in future projects to be characters from LGBTQIA and racial minorities. But the conservative groups in the US have been quick to shoot down Disney’s plans for representation as many opponents of the company took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction due to which #boycottdisney is now trending on the social media site.
With Disney being such a global and wide-reaching brand, naturally, even footballers have been keeping an eye on the developing situation as many of them have families who are big fans of Disney movies.
Former Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren more or less confirmed that he was attentive to the situation as he took to Twitter on Saturday to protest against Disney’s move by attaching an image of him deleting his Disney+ streaming subscription on his phone.
The Croat international seems to be siding with the conservative Americans to display homophobia and has immediately been called out by Liverpool fans for his “right-wing” views.
Dejan Lovren: antivaxxer, plays for Gazprom-owned Zenit, boycotting Disney over its criticism of homophobic laws in Florida. https://t.co/WBtXwU2Bed— Grace Robertson 🏳️⚧️ (@GraceOnFootball) April 2, 2022
Dejan Lovren played for us, a club built on socialism and acceptance of different faiths and sexualities. Sadly his right wing views were so ingrained in him that playing for a club like Liverpool didn’t change his opinions. Oh well he’s no longer are problem. 🤔— Louise 🇺🇦 (@LouiseLacy) April 2, 2022
Lovren has also in the past supported anti-vaccination campaigns by siding with tennis star Novak Djokovic. All of these past behaviours, in addition to the Disney protest, have been criticized by fans all over the world.
Liverpool fans have been vocal about his right-wing views not changing despite being a part of a club who have been always been accommodative of differences in faith and sexuality in the past.
Having spent 6 years at Merseyside (2014-20) that culminated in Liverpool’s UCL and PL triumphs, Kopites now feel let down by the Croat, following his tweet.
As protests against Disney’s efforts to ensure inclusivity continue, Lovren has now found himself in the eye of the storm and will perhaps be wanting to focus his attention to Zenit and Croatia’s upcoming Nation’s League campaign.