Berlin (dpa) – More than 800 footballers in Germany have rallied behind homosexual players and encouraged them to a coming-out, in the latest edition of 11Freunde magazine.
“We will support you and encourage you, and defend you against alienation, if necessary. Because you are doing the right thing, and we are on your side,” the players said in a statement.
“There is not one openly homosexual player in the German men’s professional leagues in 2021. It appears that the fear of being alienated and excluded and to endanger the career as a football pro is still so big that guy footballers believe they have to hide their sexuality.”
The statement “you can count on us” is signed by among others Union Berlin’s Max Kruse, Jonas Hector of Cologne, SV Hamburg’s Bakery Jatta, German women’s internationals Almuth Schult and Alexandra Popp (VfL Wolfsburg), and entire professional teams.
The players said that no one should be forced to come out but that anyone who does will have their full support.
Former Germany captain Philipp Lahm meanwhile advised active players not to come out, in his forthcoming book of which the Bild paper published excerpts on Wednesday.
Lahm said that it may be possible in some cities and clubs but that overall “getting away unscathed seems slim to me.”
He said a player may be mature enough for such a decision “but he will not be able to count on the same maturity with all opponents and certainly not in all the stadiums he competes in.”
Lahm said that former Germany player Thomas Hitzlsperger was wise to make his homosexuality public after the end of his career.