‘Impossible to be openly homosexual in football,’ says France star
France’s World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud believes it is “impossible” for a professional footballer to come out as gay.
The Chelsea star, speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro, said it is an “understatement” to say the sport is not ready to accept an openly gay player.
“When I saw the German Thomas Hitzlsperger come out in 2014, it was very emotional,” he said. “That was when I said to myself it’s impossible to display homosexuality in football.”
Hitzlsperger, a former German international, is the most high-profile former footballer to come out, doing so a year after announcing his retirement.
There are currently just two openly gay professional players in world football, Minnesota United’s Collin Martin and Swedish player Anton Hysen.
Justin Fashanu, Britain’s first £1 million black footballer, became the first openly gay professional footballer in 1990.
“In the dressing room, there is a lot of testosterone, teasing and communal showers,” Giroud said. “It is delicate but that is how it is.
“I can understand the distress and the difficulty for guys to come out — it is a real challenge after working on yourself for years.”
Giroud has been involved in campaigns while at former clubs Arsenal and at Montpellier, where he appeared on the front cover of gay magazine Tetu, to raise awareness of the issues LGBT people face.
English clubs will again take part in a campaign later this month which will aim to raise awareness of homophobia in football, with rainbow laces, corner flags and captains’ armbands on display at grounds around the country.
“I am ultra tolerant,” Giroud said. “When I was at Montpellier, I was involved in the fight, notably doing the cover of Tetu.
“At Arsenal, when they asked me to wear the rainbow laces in support of the gay community, I did it. There is still a lot of work to do in the world of football on this subject, that’s an understatement.”