German chancellor Angela Merkel is telling gay footballers they should have no fear of revealing their sexuality.
The chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union met officials at a forum in Berlin to discuss integration and diversity in sport yesterday (13 September).
She said: ‘I am of the opinion that anyone who sums up the strength and bravery – and we have a long tradition of this behind us in politics – should know that they live in a land where they have nothing to fear.
‘The fact there are still fears for some people for their own situation means we need to send out a clear message: you must not be afraid.’
Speaking anonymously to magazine Fluter, the Bundesliga player said: ‘I would no longer be safe if my sexuality was to be made public.
‘I don’t know whether I will be able to take the constant tension between the model heterosexual player and the possible discovery until the end of my career.’
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness said it is only a matter of time before a player comes out.
‘It will happen sooner or later,’ he said. ‘All clubs are advised to prepare for this topic, so they will have good answers.’
Hoeness said it will be crucial to ‘protect as much as necessary’ any footballer who admits his true sexuality.
He called on sportsmen to ‘have the courage’, saying attitudes within football have changed within recent years.
In an interview with Bunte magazine, national team captain Philipp Lahm advised against it, saying an openly gay footballer would be ‘exposed to abusive elements’.
He said: ‘For someone who does come out, it would be very difficult.’
There are only a couple openly gay footballers worldwide, American David Testo, who played for Montreal Impact until 2011, and Swedish Anton Hysén, who plays in the third division for Utisktens BK.
Justin Fashanu was the first, and only, English footballer to come out in 1990. In 1998, he committed suicide.