West Ham United’s Matt Jarvis has become only the third professional footballer to appear on the cover of Attitude magazine.
David Beckham was the first professional player to do so in 2002, followed by Freddie Ljungberg in 2006.
In its January issue, Jarvis tells the magazine that today’s football community is not homophobic and would accept gay professional players.
When asked if players should come out, Jarvis told Attitude, ‘Yeah, of course.’
‘It’s everyday life. It’s not something that’s going to be a shock. I’m sure there are many footballers who are gay, but when they decide to actually come out and say it is a different story. It’s one that I’m sure they’ve thought about many times. But it’s a hard thing for them to do.’
‘There’d be support everywhere within the football community, whether it be players, fans or within the [Professional Footballers Association]. There would definitely be groups of people who would be supportive and help them through it.’
Asked about UK lesbian sports presenter Clare Balding’s recent comments to Attitude that being openly gay would help a gay sportsperson’s performance as an athlete, Jarvis agreed.
‘[Otherwise] you’ve always got something you’re worried about at the back of your mind,’ Jarvis told Attitude.
‘If you can let that go and then just concentrate on your goal, which is whichever sport you’re doing to the best of your ability, I think that would help.’
‘I’m sure that would help with the team situation.’
Attitude’s editor Matthew Todd said it was ridiculous that there were no openly gay players in British professional football.
‘There’s rightly been a focus of ridding the beautiful game of racism but there doesn’t seem to be much effort tackling homophobia,’ Todd said.
‘We know there are gay players - and fans who support the game religiously – so I hope this starts a discussion and is a small step in the right direction towards attitudes changing.’