Most pro football players would welcome a gay teammate and some say the first soccer star to come out would make a fortune.
A poll of professional soccer players in the UK has found 62% believe an openly gay footballer would not be outcast.
Commissioned by sporting mag FourFourTwo, they asked 100 professional players across the leagues anonymously about issues in football such as racism, drugs, and depression.
One Championship midfielder said he strongly disagreed fans and teammates would shun a gay player, saying: ‘Everyone’s how they are and it wouldn’t affect me on the football pitch – I couldn’t care less.
‘I just want to win the game and if he scored the winner I’d be hugging him just the same, and even give him a kiss if it meant he’d got us the three points!’
A Scottish Premier League striker said if a player did come out, ‘he’d make a fucking fortune, everyone would be all over him.’
However another SPL player said football was not a ‘tolerable environment’ for a gay man to come out.
Carlisle said after speaking to seven gay players, they were not worried about the team’s reaction, or the managers or the fans, they were worried about the media.
Speaking to Gay Star News, Gay Footballers Supporters Network chair Chris Basiurski said he was not surprised by the findings.
‘When we speak to players, the general feeling is that people have gay friends within the club or outside the club, and people are a lot more broadminded then they may have been in the past,’ he said.
‘The fact that 62% say it’s okay is great, but it’s difficult to know how it would translate into reality if it happened.’
Basiurski added: ‘But there is an open market for an openly gay player. Look at [openly gay rugby player] Gareth Thomas. How many times have you seen him on a reality show?
‘If a gay player wanted to come out, there could be a book deal, the reality shows, the interviews. They could make a bucket load.’