English Referee Ryan Atkin became the first openly gay referee in the country's professional soccer league after coming out of the closet in early August.
Atkin stated that he arrived at his decision for the good of the fans and to fight homophobia. "I thought it was the right time, I think the game needs it.
"I just think the fans need to understand that people are LGBT, but that's their personal life and you judge them on their profession and not their personal life," the referee said.
"We're at a time in the world where we've got all the trouble in America when it comes to transgender people, the World Cup is going to countries where LGBT is still illegal," he explained.
Earlier last week, homophobic chanting could be heard during a Premier League game between Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion. Two Leicester fans were arrested, although it’s estimated around 50 fans had joined in the jeers.
Atkin soundly denounced the incident, stating that it was unacceptable for participants to act in this way and it should not be tolerated.
"It may not be people that are playing; there are a lot of LGBT supporters, a lot of LGBT young people who go to football who could be LGBT and haven't told their family. When you've got people shouting those things, you're not helping those people at all," he said.
However, despite last Saturday’s incident, the professional referee said that he has received an overwhelming amount of support from around the world.
"It's been a fantastic experience. I've received so many positive messages from people all over the world, and I think that's something that's touched me," Atkin said.
The future of LGBT outreach in soccer, Atkin said, is dependent on strong role models and what they can do to educate those around them.
"For me, it needs positive allies, it needs people who are not necessarily LGBT and they're the people that need to challenge people when remarks are made," he said.
"You need people within the sport who are respected — who are looked up to — to start changing minds. That will be a great asset,” said Atkin, who has worked with LGBT groups Stonewall and Rainbow Laces.
The referee will act as a fourth official in the Football League games as well as referee in the National League North and South this season.