The head of England’s Football Association says he’s encouraging several closeted players he’s been speaking with to come out en masse.
“I put the message out there that if a number of top-level pros want to come out, why don’t we synchronize it?” Greg Clarke told the Times of London. “So one person doesn’t have to come out on their own.”
Last year, Clarke said he “wouldn’t recommend” a footballer come out as gay because there’d be too much negative backlash. His theory is there’s safety in numbers.
“The Premier League, the Football League and the FA could do it at the start of the season. At the start of the season everybody thinks it is their season, the crowds are happy, the sun is shining.”
Surveys indicate players would support an out teammate, but Clarke said he was worried about how gay players on opposing teams would be treated. “Not that they would do bad things, but I said we should prepare well.”
He added that its difficult to get a player to come out because most don’t want to rock the boat. “I don’t want to be part of a process that says, ‘You’ve got to come out.’ That’s not right. People are cautious. It’s a one-way street. Once you’re out of the closet, you’re out.”
Homophobia in football is getting increased attention, with FIFA finally addressing anti-gay slurs being yelled at opposing teams and players like Cristiano Ronaldo. In October, fans unfurled a 160-foot long anti-LGBT banner at a game in Cologne, Germany.
Anton Hysén, who plays in Sweden, is currently the only out player in Europe, with Robbie Rogers representing in the U.S.