Footballers coming out: What’s the situation elsewhere in Europe?

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He’s not even an adult yet but Jake Daniels showed maturity beyond his years when he became the only active male professional footballer to come out as gay.

The 17-year-old, who plays for Blackpool in England’s third tier, was widely praised for his courage.

But what’s the situation elsewhere in Europe?

In France, no active professional footballer has ever come out. French striker Olivier Rouyer revealed he was gay after retiring as a player and coach.

Last weekend, players in France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 were asked to wear rainbow colours on their shirts as part of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May.

But Paris Saint-Germain’s midfielder Idrissa Gueye was omitted from the club’s match against Montpellier for “personal reasons”. 

RMC Sport reported he refused to play because he didn’t want to wear rainbow colours.

On Wednesday the National Ethics Council (CNE) of the French Football Federation (FFF) asked Gueye to explain whether or not he refused to wear a shirt in LGBT colours.

In a letter seen by AFP news agency, the Senegalese footballer was asked to admit the allegations were unfounded or make amends for them.

Daniels has said his inspiration for coming out was Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, who in October 2021 became the only active male professional playing top-flight football to admit he was gay. 

Shortly after that revelation, a footballer playing in Spain wrote to the media outlet Cadena SER and admitted that he was bisexual and currently living with his male partner. 

“First of all, I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Joshua Cavallo for sharing his feelings with all of us,” he said. “And now to say, like him, yes, that you can play football being gay, bisexual, as I consider myself, or anything else.

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In Italy, no active professional footballer has ever come out. 

But a former player for Rome club Lazio, Thomas Hitzlsperger, from Germany, came out in 2014, at the time one of the highest-profile players to admit he was gay. 

Hitzlsperger — who spent the majority of his career at Aston Villa and VfB Stuttgart — chose to wait until after he retired before making the admission.

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