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Football head: Gay players welcome

The Local · 18 Jan 2012, 07:14

Published: 18 Jan 2012 07:14 GMT+01:00

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Players should have the “courage to declare themselves,” Theo Zwanziger said Tuesday during a public discussion on sexuality in elite sports at the Sportschule Hennef near Cologne. He said the situation for gay players in football was much better than it had been.

The comments come amid increasing criticism of star footballer Philipp Lahm over remarks he made earlier this week implying that Germany is not ready for gay athletes.

“Football is like earlier gladiatorial combat. Sure, politicians can now come out as homosexuals. But they don’t have to play in front of 60,000 spectators week after week,” Lahm said, according to the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.

“I don’t think society is yet far enough to accept gay footballers for granted, as it is now possible in other areas.”

Lahm’s words echo statements he made in his book released last year and in earlier interviews with the media. Although he is widely viewed as one of the most tolerant athletes in German sports, he has advised footballers to stay in the closet to protect themselves.

But Zwanziger joins other prominent sporting figures who have said that gays would be accepted in sports.

National footballer Mario Gomez told Bunte magazine in 2010 that if they outed themselves, gay athletes “would then play as though they’ve been unshackled.”

On Tuesday Zwanziger said good players would be respected no matter their national origin or sexual orientation.

“I think fans in the stadium orient themselves toward performance,” Zwanziger said.

Story continues below…

No gay male football player in Germany's top league has yet come out of the closet.

The Local/DPA/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:08 January 18, 2012 by freechoice
i always believed Germans are not too willing to talk about their private lives in public. but in this case there is no reservations about declaring one's sexual preferences? who cares!
12:22 January 18, 2012 by Landmine
Who gives a hoot if they are gay or not! Just play ball and keep ypour mouth shut...

Typical Local.de story wating editorial space.....
12:42 January 18, 2012 by n230099
"Football head"....we see what you did there!
13:59 January 18, 2012 by Gaffers
A players sexual orientation has no bearing on their level of ability. I doubt the vast majority of fans wouldn't care if a player was gay or not as long as he plays well for the team. I also don't think it is necessary for a player to come out and make a big fuss about it. It is a private matter for them and not the world. It is irrelevant to everyone else. Why should they have to go public? They don't have to keep it a secret either. Just live a normal life like anyone should be allowed to.

There will always be a small minority of homophobic knuckle draggers who would abuse the players but those same morons do it today based on colour of skin. These guys are not a football problem though but a society problem
17:46 January 18, 2012 by Joshen
It will be a "big thing" for homosexuals as long as the society says it is. I think most (if not all) gay people would prefer that they could just live a normal life like everyone else. But as long as relatives will react if a guy brings his boyfriend to a familydinner or newsmedia and fans react if a male footballer kiss his boyfriend after winning "athlete of the year" it is something that homosexuals can just ignore. Even if they would like to.

Hopefully this will change and in the meantime we should appreciate everyone who comes out of the closet (celebrity or not), cause it's still nothing easy.
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