FLUTER, DIE WELT, DEUTSCHE WELLE (Germany), ESPN (USA)
No name, no club – nothing that would point to his identity – that was what Fluter journalist Adrian Bechtold had to promise a professional Bundesliga soccer player in return for talking about something that is still absolutely taboo in the top soccer league of Germany (and just about any other country): Being gay.
The unnamed player, reports Die Welt, is the first Bundesliga player to talk about what it’s like to fake heterosexuality in public by adopting certain clichéd forms of behavior, denying who he really is, the constant fear of being outed as gay.
The player tells Fluter, a state-run magazine for youths distributed in high schools, that he sacrificed having a private life to soccer. “I was in a relationship, but playing soccer at that level is pure poison for a partnership. So I had to make a choice. Sure, my success as a soccer player is great. But so is the price I’ve paid for living my dream.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in on the issue , telling the unnamed player he could trust Germany and football fans to understand. “He lives in a country in which he need have no fear of outing himself publicly,” she said.
Merkel said German politics had made a lot of progress to get to a stage at which politicians could be open about their sexuality, reports ESPN. She said however she was well aware that football had not reached that stage yet, explaining: “We have to acknowledge there are still fears when it comes to the social environment [in football]. We can only give a signal: You need not fear.”
At public events, the player said he appears in the company of women friends. He says he knows of other gay Bundesliga players and they “all do the same thing.”
“I don’t know whether I will be able to take the constant tension between the model heterosexual player and the possible discovery, until the end of my career,” he said.
No footballer in the professional German leagues has publicly declared himself to be homosexual, says Deutsche Welle.
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness said, “Sooner or later some players are bound to out themselves,” adding “I cannot imagine that a gay player would have any problems with our fans. FC Bayern is ready. Society as a whole is further along on this issue than the media suggests.”
This weekend, coincidently, all 18-top flight German soccer clubs will play in special jerseys saying: “Go your own way,” to promote integration and inclusivity, reports Deutsche Welle.