If it is true that Flamur Kastrati has been in contact with the term “sweeper” thousands of times without understanding the meaning, it says even more about the culture in Norwegian men’s football than it does about him.
It seemed too stupid to be true when Kastrati stated on Sunday night that he did not know that “sweeping” is a derogatory term used about gays. According to the involuntary protagonist of the elite series round, he has heard the term used thousands of times during his 28-year-long life, without knowing what it means.
A pathetic and unreliable attempt to save his own skin is a possible interpretation.
But if we take him at his word, what does this say about the culture in Norwegian men’s football? Although Kastrati has not said that it has been used thousands of times on the football field, it is reasonable to assume that sweeping is an insult that has also been used in training – it seems very unlikely that it is picked up by a microphone first time Kastrati uses the word in a football context.
There must be someone in Norwegian men’s football who knows what “sweeper” has used to be used for. And the fact that the term is used indicates that these slightly more linguistic people have not said that it is totally unacceptable to say something like that.
Experienced players who have influence in a group of players have a responsibility to set a standard. This includes cracking down on attitudes that belong in the last millennium, or strictly speaking not in any millennium. Coaches and other club leaders have the same responsibility. It helps little to decorate the corner flags with the rainbow colors if the attitudes on the court signal the exact opposite.
One of the coaches who could take responsibility is Dag-Eilev Fagermo, who was the one who was called “fucking sweeper” by Kastrati on Sunday. He could, for example, say “I can stand to be yelled at, me, but I think it’s damn sad that he thinks that’s an insult.”
Instead, he uses an interview about the situation to
. It says quite a bit about the culture in Norwegian men’s football.
But let’s hope that the timing for the news that came this Monday is as good as it can appear, and that it has a really good effect on openness that top judge Tom Harald Hagen chooses to tell about his own orientation. In an ideal world, of course, this would not have been something to fuss with in public, but the world of football is not ideal at all. And then we need role models like Hagen. Kudos!
Despite this good news, there is still not a single male, Norwegian top player who has stood out as openly gay. It can have two explanations. Either gays do not dare to stand out in the football community (understandably, when their orientation is used as an insult by some). Otherwise, young gays quit football before they have time to become top players, because they do not feel welcome in the environment for the same reason.
Both are untenable, and the truth is probably a combination. Football needs leaders to take responsibility for preventing it. It is also not difficult to imagine what it is like to listen to “sweeper” comments in the environment, no matter how these fall, if you are in the closet.
So far, we have unfortunately seen an overly anemic handling of a serious problem.