Football

Why aren't there more openly gay footballers?

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The retired German international yesterday came out as gay much to the surprise of everyone.

Players, not only in football but the world of sports, are admitting to being gay much more these days as opposed to say ten years ago. But will we see an openly gay active footballer in the top leagues in England any time soon?

Many fear that we will not see an openly gay footballer any time soon. As it currently stands there aren't any - not just in the Premier League - but the same applies to the top four divisions in the country.

One fear would be the reaction from fans. Although there is no place for homophobia, not only in football but any sport, there are some sections of fans on terraces in grounds in the United Kingdom and all around the world that are homophobic.

Despite the fear amongst players regarding the backlash that they would receive especially when playing at away grounds, a study carried out by the University of Staffordshire stated that over 90% of fans would not hold any resentment towards a player that played for their club coming out as gay.

Whilst there has been players in the English game that have openly come out as gay, they have only done so after retirement. The latest former player being Germany's Thomas Hitzlsperger.

"It has been a long and difficult process...only in recent years has it dawned on me that I would prefer to live with another man." said the former Premier League star in an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit.

It is a sad state of affairs when footballers feel the need to keep it a secret until their playing days are over. In this respect football seems to be falling behind in terms of modern society.

Diver Tom Daley, who came out late last year whilst still competing, received support from the vast majority of the sporting world, and that's how it should be.

In a time when racism still takes place in the game, the reaction to a top flight player coming out could turn into a witch hunt amongst fans.

The fear is that it will be some time before a player is ready to come at as gay. Some may feel if it would hinder their careers. Former NBA player John Amaechi has branded football as "toxic".

Speaking to David Ornstein of the BBC Amaechi said: "Football is the Saatchi & Saatchi of sports organisations. It's really good at advertising campaigns and colourful posters. That's part of change, but the fundamentals are a bit more rigorous, functional, pragmatic and boring. Football is not doing those bits."

Although it seems in this day and age in which homosexuality is widely accepted in society it still isn't in football by some fans despite clubs clamping down on chants that could be considered to be homophobic.

I believe that a gay footballer would not be victimised by a club and would be embraced by everyone involved but the away fans would more than likely target that player.

That for me is the fundamental reason why it seems that it won't be a while until we see an active player tell the world he is gay. I just hope I'm wrong with that statement. 

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Thomas Hitzlsperger
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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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