The Bayern Munich footballer, Mario Gomez, has urged homosexual players to come out of the closet.
The striker broke ranks on the taboo subject, but insisted to a German magazine that he is not gay himself.
The comments again open the discussion on homosexuality in football and sport. Ireland has led the way on the issue thanks to Cork hurler Donal Óg Cusack’s revelation about his sexuality.
Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas later also came out.
Speaking to TheScore.ie today Frank Kelly of OutinIreland.net – ‘Ireland’s gay and lesbian sports network’ – said that an athlete’s decision to come out was a private one.
It’s very much a personal thing. When Donal Óg came out it was a big story – but he’s a strong person and a strong personality – with strong views on a lot of things.
But if you look at the Donal Óg story – and it’s the only example in the Irish context – only two chapters in his book focus on the issue.
And he makes the point, and I think this is an important point, that one’s sexuality is only one aspect of your personality.
And though Mario Gomez’s Germany team-mate Philip Lahm insists that supporters’ predictable reaction makes it impossible for some players to be open about their sexuality, Kelly says not all sports are scarred by football’s prejudices.
“That homophobia would probably be the case with soccer but that’s not always the case,” he says, “Sports like hockey, camogie and tennis would be much more open.”
However, there are certainly no openly gay football players in the world’s major leagues. Gomez said that the trend should change. He told Die Zeit:
They would then play as though they’d been unshackled. We have a gay Vice-Chancellor, Berlin’s mayor is gay … professional football players should commit to their inclination.
His advice contradicts that of the German football federation (DFB).
The FAI have not yet answered a question about their position on the issue, this afternooon.
The Players Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) could not be contacted.