- This is the second UK player in three months who says they’re fearful of revealing their sexuality.
In a letter sent to a UK charity, a soccer player says he’s too scared to come out as gay. He also demands Premier League bosses do more to help him and others.
The letter was sent to the Justin Fashanu Foundation. The organization was set up in memory of the late, gay soccer player. Founded by the late player’s niece, Amal Fashanu, the charity is dedicated to stamping out discrimination in the game.
As reported in The Sun, the player says he’s known he was gay since he was 14.
‘Even though society has moved on massively since I was a teenager, the game simply hasn’t.
‘Those running it need to put more measures in place so gay players know they will get the support they need.
‘The powers-that-be are only playing lip service to the issue.’
He says he’s confided in a few teammates about his sexuality. However, living his life in the closet has had a ‘massive impact’ on his mental health. He added he found it ‘virtually impossible’ to pursue a relationship with anyone.
Football authorities urged to do more
The letter comes just two months after a Premier League player told the charity he felt unable to come out.
Amil Fashanu said that reading the first letter had prompted the second player to write to the Foundation. She is now hoping to put the two players in touch so they can support each other.
Her uncle, Justin Fashanu, came out in 1990. However, he took his own life in 1998, aged just 38. Since that time, no professional footballer who plays in the Premier League of British football has come out.
Media told not to sensationalize stories
In response to news of the closeted player, Sports Media LGBT+ published an open letter. Over 100 individuals and 60+ sports-related organizations supported its message
“The football authorities have the capacity to do more – such as addressing LGBTQ+ mental wellbeing specifically, and the challenges faced by closeted gay and bi male players; and delivering education for all stakeholders around how homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language and behavior can make people feel unwelcome and unsafe.
“We urge UEFA and FIFA, with their respective #EqualGame and Fair Play campaigns, to set an example at the highest levels of the game for member associations to follow and to be bolder in their visible support for LGBT+ inclusion.”
The letter also warned the media against sensationalizing stories about gay soccer players.
‘Sensationalized accounts in the media of agony and anguish give the perception that complacency has set in on homophobia in football. The truth is that there has never been a more concerted team effort to tackle prejudice, but its progress is hampered by such accounts and makes gay and bi people across the men’s game feel less safe and less likely to feel they can be honest and open about their identity.’
The Premier League says it, ‘remains committed to supporting any who want to come out.’
Very few professional soccer players come out
Professional soccer players to come out include Anton Hysén. The son of former Sweden international, Glenn Hysén, he came out as gay in March 2011 while playing for the Swedish Division 2 team, Utsiktens BK.
Born in the US, Robbie Rogers briefly played for Leeds United in England, alongside residencies with US clubs and fixtures with the US national side. He came out in 2013 whilst still playing.
In 2014, the Dutch player Thomas Hitzlsperger came out a year after officially retiring as a player.