Gay footballers are being urged to come out by the head of the German Football Association.
Theo Zwanziger called on players to 'have the courage to declare themselves,' saying attitudes within football have changed in recent years, reported The Local.
The comments were made during a public discussion on sexuality in the sport in Cologne yesterday and follows star footballer Phillip Lahm's recent claims that Germany is not yet ready to accept openly gay athletes.
'Football is like earlier gladiatorial combat,' the Bayern Munich player said, reported the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.
He added: 'Sure, politicians can now come out as homosexuals. But they don’t have to play in front of 60,000 spectators week after week.
'I don’t think society is yet far enough to accept gay footballers for granted, as it is now possible in other areas.'
In his recently published book, Lahm advised fellow athletes to stay in the closet.
However, Zwanziger's opinions are shared by other prominent sporting figures, including German national footballer Mario Gomez.
He told Bunte magazine last year that if players came out, they 'would then play as though they’ve been unshackled.'
No male footballer in Germany's top league has yet to come out as gay.