By Out.com Editors

There is, however, another way that British soccer players are finding themselves on the front pages. A slew of kiss-and-tell articles have appeared in the tabloids in recent years about 'roastings': the penchant our young sportsmen have for sharing a young female groupie with a teammate'at the same time. Often with several teammates. Sporting gods naked with other sporting gods after a match, with full erections, in the same room, on the same girl, possibly sharing the same orifice, but definitely enjoying the spectacle of their sporting buddies out of their kits and in action and up close. Who wouldn't be interested in that? It's the locker room fantasy that underpins so much of sporno, and at least one hit TV series, the deliciously knowing Footballers Wive$.

And in recent months things have reached their logical, Footballers Wive$ conclusion, their spornographic money shot. Spectacularly confirming those 'roasting' suspicions and all those timeless, dweeby gay fantasies about jocks, lurid stories were splashed across the tabloids about a 'secretly shot film' showing several globally famous English soccer stars engaging in a 'gay sex orgy,' while follow-up stories suggested a culture of anything-goes swinging bisexuality among many soccer stars that matches their rock-and-roll lifestyles. As you might imagine, this is a story that no one seems to be able to get enough of.

Except perhaps the footballers themselves. Although they didn't name the stars involved, the dashing Arsenal and England left-back Ashley Cole is suing a couple of papers for libel and 'breach of privacy.' In spite of the rampant interest in sporno in the United Kingdom, the coverage of this story (the gay sex was routinely described as 'perverted' and 'sordid,' which I guess means 'really hot') and the response of many fans on the terrace (in the form of antigay taunts) show that casual homophobia is even more rampant. Masculinity may be an object of avid, voyeuristic desire for many if not most men in the United Kingdom today, but it seems the explicitly homoerotic implications of that still give quite a few of them the willies. The sporno stars themselves might not care, but they worry about what their fans will think. Perhaps this is the reason today's soccer stars, who are way 'gayer' than their predecessors, no longer kiss one another ecstatically after a goal is scored: They have to maintain the impression that they're only gay for pay.

This is the time-lag paradox of sport in general and today's sporno in particular: It's a spectator sport for men who are interested in men, who love and admire the male body in action and perhaps also in repose, who are entranced by the romance of the adolescent masculine dream that is athletic team sports'but too many of the same men still worry that if they acknowledge this, their manhood will fall off and burst into flames.

And so they have to mock and despise your full-monty faggotry'to prove there's nothing queer about their perfectly natural interest in young men's flashing thighs.

Soccer is a tough sport, and any perceived weakness will be exploited. As Oscar Wilde said, it 'is all very well as a game for rough girls, but it is hardly suitable for delicate boys.' Opposing team fans like to chant at one player rumored to have been connected to that soccer 'gay orgy' porno tape: 'He's big, he's black, he takes it up the crack.'

Which isn't exactly friendly. But then again, in a spornographic world, this chant might be something that excites the fans as much as it conveys their contempt.