According to reports in British media, at least 8 professional soccer players are supposedly out to the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), but fear that they would receive antagonism and face a backlash if they went public in the UK.
It is line with what American player Robbie Rogers, who came out and retired from professional soccer after having been playing most recently in a lower English division.
According to The Observer newspaper, Clarke Carlisle, the PFA Chairman, told LGBT activists and campaigners that the players have already come to him personally and revealed they were gay, but asked that their sexuality remain outside public view.
The players, he said, cited being fearful of a fan and media reaction that would be negative. However, the players reportedly felt they would not have any problems within their lockeroom with other players.
Gay Football Supporters’ Network chair Chris Basiurski said in a statement: “We have anecdotal evidence that players are out within their clubs and don’t have a problem. But we are trying to create an atmosphere for people to come out safely, but at the moment there is a big barrier. The fact is, we have never really tested the fans, both home or away, on this.
“The danger is what happens when a player comes out and gets loads of support and attention, but then start playing badly. The worry is that fans will start getting on their backs and they may lose the confidence of their manager and it could be connected to their sexuality.”
Professional athletes, like Rogers and most recently NBA player Jason Collins, have come out as gay in what has been a positive move for the sporting world, which had historically been seen as anti-LGBT.