Homosexuality in football is something said to be a taboo subject by both players and the media. It remains a controversial issue. However, today we take a look at former and current footballers who have come out as gay.
6. Justin Fashanu – England
On this day 20 years ago, we lost Justin Fashanu.
Justin was treated appallingly by many in football and the media – for the sole reason that he was gay.
To honour his legacy, we must continue to fight for LGBT inclusion in football and eliminate discrimination from the game. pic.twitter.com/J9rbquFPaS
— Kick It Out (@kickitout) May 2, 2018
Former Manchester City striker Justin Fashanu, who played for a variety of clubs between 1978 and 1997, became the first British player to come out as gay late in his career but suffered abuse from fans. He tragically killed himself in 1998 after he was questioned by police when a seventeen-year-old boy accused him of sexual assault.
He was also the first black footballer to command a £1million transfer fee, with his transfer from Norwich City to Nottingham Forest in 1981.
5. Thomas Hitzlsperger – Germany
A rare openly gay footballer & a fine striker of a ball! pic.twitter.com/M6ccwMFu2W
— Unibet (@unibet) July 8, 2017
In January 2014, Bayern Munich’s youth product Thomas Hitzlsperger, who plied his trade in Premier League at Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton, came out as gay after he retired from professional football at the age of 31 because of injuries.
“I was surprised and happy that they were all totally OK with it. Where I come from, in rural Bavaria, homosexuality is considered ‘un-normal’. I knew that there would be negative reactions from those who will never understand it, also towards my family, but that didn’t bother them. I’ve had nothing but total support from them.” Hitzlsperger told his friends and family.
The Guardian revealed that Hitzlsperger was engaged to his childhood sweetheart and broke up with her shortly before the scheduled wedding eight years ago.
“I finally figured out that I preferred living with a man,” he says.
4. Anton Hysén – Sweden
— Towleroad (@tlrd) March 10, 2014
In March 2011, Hysen, who plays in the lower leagues in Sweden for Torslanda IK as a defender, became only the second active footballer to come out as being gay – more than 20 years after Justin Fashanu did so. He broke the taboo.
— GayTV (@GayTVswe) September 19, 2015
“So what?” he told CNN in an exclusive interview.”Being gay is not a choice – I hate it when people say that. There’s so much ignorance.”
“There’s a lack of knowledge. Some people who are homophobic don’t even know a gay person. It’s all about preconceptions.”
“I hear that football players are supposed to be masculine. I know plenty of straight guys who are more effeminate.”
“There’s this illusion that every football player has to be macho and have a model girlfriend. It’s not acceptable to be a gay player.”
“Why not? We can run, we can play, we can score. So what’s the problem?!”