A very taboo subject with no currently playing players openly coming out as gay. So why do we not see more players coming out publicly? When we live in a world where same sex marriages are no longer illegal unlike back in the 1960’s when to be openly gay was seen as inhuman and wrong and was also a criminal offence.
Baldé Diao Keita of Lazio recently created a lot of online reaction about about a picture he put a picture on Instagram holding Patric of Napoli’s hand which sparked outrage from Lazio and Napoli fans in which both the players play for respectively. Discrimination in Italy is known to be very poorly treated when it comes to sensitive matters.
For example Kevin Prince Boateng walked off the pitch due to racist chanting at him and his fellow mixed race teammates during his time at AC Milan. Another recent example would be the ill treatment of Sulley Muntari of Pescara who said to “feeling like a criminal whilst playing” all due to the colour of his skin so you can only imagine the treatment the first ever gay player would receive.
No players have ever openly come out as gay in the major European leagues and it’s not surprising to see why, in England you can only imagine the homophobic chanting being aimed at players non stop throughout the game and you can imagine this would be quite humiliating and demoralising for the player too. All this discrimination we have in football really does seem quite backwards in terms of how the worlds society has moved on past these previous taboos but the world of football has failed to. It’s easy to say that the world would welcome it with open arms and I believe that 9/10 would, myself included as I believe that everyone should love thy neighbour as thy self. But once a group of fans started start to shout insults at the player, usually a pack mentality is formed and many a time I’ve seen this escalate into a whole stand erupt into jeers of discrimination against the player.
For example when Andy Carroll plays away at any ground echoes of the word “Gypo” can be heard around the stadium for the reason that he has long hair. Don’t get me wrong I love to hear an intimidating atmosphere as I believe that this is what football is all about, representing your area and supporting your team in triumph and defeat. Pretty old fashioned philosophy really but with modern day awareness that a gay player in the game should not have to be embarrassed to come out as we’re all the same on the inside.
Also when did the word gay become a derogatory term to use against someone? Especially at younger ages when people say to each other “you’re gay” or “that’s gay” as if it’s bad to be gay when it shouldn’t be something that people should feel victimised by and this can cause a great impact on someone as they grow up and come out as gay because then they feel embarrassed by it due to the bad stigma to it. Antoine Griezmann has publicly come out and said that he would respect any players decision but most players are scared to come out because of the treatment they would receive from the fans.
With no players coming out in Europe’s major leagues before it makes it difficult for any players waiting to come out the closest to find a role model as they are the first to come out so then they have to be the role model for other players which comes with a lot of pressure as well as playing in front of a collective audience of 1.5 billion people, the pressure can all get too much.
Players have come out before in the past such as Thomas Hitzlsperger but the ex Aston Villa, West Ham, Bayern Munich, Stuttgart, Everton and Lazio man only came out publicly after he had retired as he felt that he would be ridiculed and not be able to handle the abuse that comes with such an announcement especially after playing in leagues such as the Premier League and Serie A where the abuse would have been very high for Hitzlsperger. Which shows how backwards the world of football is for players that want to come out but know the consequences that come from that but shouldn’t as the world continues to push equality and diversity.