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Mario Gomez tells gay footballers to come out

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Photo: DPA
16:31 CET+01:00
German national footballer Mario Gomez on Wednesday encouraged fellow players to come out of the closet if they are gay – something no active professional has yet done publicly.

The website of weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported that the 25-year-old Bayern Munich striker addressed the taboo of homosexuality in men’s sports, contradicting colleagues who have suggested such a move could ruin a player’s career.

“They would then play as though they’d been unshackled,” Gomez told magazine Bunte. “Being gay hasn’t been a taboo topic for a while.”

It’s an open secret that there are homosexual footballers in Germany's Bundesliga, according to Die Zeit, but there are no openly gay players.

“We have a gay Vice Chancellor, the Berlin mayor is gay,” Gomez said, referring to Guido Westerwelle and Klaus Wowereit. “So football professionals should also acknowledge their preference.”

Two of Gomez’s national teammates have spoken against coming out of the closet in the last year.

Werder Bremen Goalkeeper Tim Wiese said in April that such a player would be put down by “merciless” fans of a "macho" sport and Bayern defender Philipp Lahm told Playboy last year that the pressure would be too great for such players.

“The player who would out himself now has to do his job in front of tens of thousands of spectators,” he told the magazine. “Guido Westerwelle doesn’t play football in front of 60,000 fans every weekend.”

The German Football Association (DFB) has also admitted that openly gay players would be confronted with major challenges.

“The first in professional football who outs himself as a homosexual will not have an easy path,” said DFB president Theo Zwanziger in a newspaper interview in December 2009, according to Die Zeit.

But Zwanziger also pledged to support any player who chooses to do so with all of the Bundesliga’s resources, the paper said.

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On Sunday, Tatjana Eggeling, a media and gender studies expert at the University of Göttingen, told a sports show on broadcaster ZDF that she knew of fake heterosexual marriages set up for gay footballers in Germany and beyond to hide their sexual preferences.

While she wouldn’t name any players, Eggeling said there were even agencies to set up the terms of such marriage contracts.

The Local/ka

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