Soccer star Zander Murray defends teen goalie against middle-aged online troll

Soccer star Zander Murray defends teen goalie against middle-aged online troll

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Zander Murray has an admirable history of putting trolls in their place. The out soccer star swats down homophobes online with regularity while using his platform to elevate queer voices.

On Sunday night, Murray stepped into the fray once again, albeit for a different cause.

The brouhaha started when 41-year-old Joey Barton, a former Premier League standout, needlessly ripped a 17-year-old goalie playing in the Scottish Women’s Premier League.

The goaltender in question, Ava Easdon, struggled in net Sunday for her club, Patrick Thistle. Barton, who has an inglorious history of spewing misogynistic rants, lambasted Eason on social media.

The explanation for his vitriol, outside of being a total crank, is unknown.

Scores of soccer fans immediately jumped to Easdon’s defense, including her father, Lex, a seven-time world kickboxing champion. Dad didn’t spare any words when it came to sticking up for his daughter.

While Murray shared Lex’s post, he weighed in as well. As the first out active male soccer player in Scottish history, Murray’s words on these matters carry sizable weight.

His response to Barton was short and biting.

Given the toxic state of social media, and especially X Twitter, Murray was met with numerous remarks from people who apparently think it’s appropriate to insult a 17-year-old girl playing the biggest game of her life.

When someone suggested that Barton was criticizing Easdon, and not bullying her, Murray pointed out the difference.

“What you’ve highlighted there is criticism,” he wrote. “Barton’s an ex prem player, he’s embarrassed a young lass. Who plays part-time football in her first tv appearance. His tweets are seen by millions. Supposed to be a f role model.”

In another exchange, Murray explained why Easdon’s age is relevant.

“She’s a young lass still in school, she made an error,” he wrote. “Is there any need for a retired ex pro to be caning her?”

The answer, of course, is “no.”

There’s no need for an ex-Premier League star with more than 2.7 million followers to personally target a teenage girl, regardless of her performance on the pitch.

In an era where many sports stars shy away from divisive topics, Murray is never afraid to stand up for his beliefs. That’s been more than apparent in the two-and-a-half years since he’s come out as gay.

He’s made it his mission to show strength for closeted young athletes searching for role models.

Back with his old club, the Gala Fairydean Rovers FC. Murray intends to retire at the end of the season. But don’t expect his voice to dissipate.

Just last month, Murray underwent a full drag makeover with British queen Cherry West. The 23-minute video shows Murray’s full transformation, right down to the makeup foundation and eye-liner.

Suffice to say, the adorable jock looked stunning.

He also used his appearance to combat gay stereotypes about cisgender men and heteronormativity.

“I always get the, ‘Oh Zander, you’re OK, you’re alright, but see all them dressing up in drag? Nah, not having that,’” he told PinkNews. “It’s up to me in that position to challenge that. Doing this collab, it’s just shown that I’m part of this community, whether you like it or not.”

As one of only six out gay pro male soccer players in the world, Murray has leaned into his role as a standard-bearer. He’s starred in numerous documentaries about life as an out athlete, including his own project, Out on the Pitch, which explores homophobic attitudes in Scottish soccer.

Shortly after the doc premiered in the U.K., Murray received a text message from a youth soccer coach, who said his story inspired one of his own players to come out and live his truth.

“I just think it’s amazing,” Murray told Outsports. “The coach said to me that this boy is so much more confident now. I’m like, ‘Bingo, that’s why I did it.’ It was the most awesome, powerful moment.”

Another powerful moment for Murray arrived last summer, when he led the Edinburgh Pride Parade, becoming the first ever British soccer player to lead a Pride march.

“What an incredible day & [honor] to lead the Pride Edinburgh march. Absolutely blown away, you were amazing!,” he posted on Instagram. “Promise you, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In an interview with ESPN, Murray said he decided to come out after participating in his first Pride event at age 30.

“Something happened, something just hit me, and I went, ‘What am I doing?,’” he said. “I could die tomorrow, and I’ve literally just lived a lie.”

Now living his full truth, Murray has already signed on to lead Leicester Pride this August. His voice, as he showed once again this week, will never be silenced.


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