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Ryan Atkin becomes first openly gay professional official in English football

• Revelation described by FA as ‘important moment in the game’
• Atkin is fourth official in EFL this season and referees in National League

Ryan Atkin has become England’s first openly gay professional official, with the Football Association welcoming the 32-year-old’s revelation of his sexuality as a landmark sign of progress.

“Ryan’s declaration marks an important moment in the game and reinforces the fact that refereeing really is open to everyone,” Neale Barry, the FA’s head of senior referee development, said. “He believes that people who are happy in their own skin perform better and I couldn’t agree more. Our role is to support all referees, aid their development, maximise their potential and, above all, help ensure their experiences are positive.”

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