DFB tells gay players: come out, but quietly

DFB tells gay players: come out, but quietly
Photo: DPA
Will footie fans ever welcome openly gay players on the pitch? A leaflet from the German Football Association (DFB) tells closeted German football players to come out at the end of the season - so people forget all about it.

Homosexuality and professional football have never been easy bedfellows, and many gay footballers remain in the closet for fear of losing their jobs or being unceremoniously kicked out of the game, wrote Die Welt on Thursday.

But a new leaflet seen by the paper and due to be issued by the DFB is being flagged as a real practical step forward for the German game, which for years has only fought homophobia with symbolic actions.

Yet the “Right way to come out!” pamphlet – written in the stuffiest official German – does not exactly make coming out sound like a joyous celebration of self-confidence and righteous taboo-smashing.

Players considering taking the plunge are told they should save their announcement until “just as the season comes to an end” because the news will have a media “half-life” – allowing time for the inevitable fuss to die down before new season opens.

Critics say the move is nowhere near enough to tackle the pervasive macho culture in the game.

“Publishing a brochure is one thing, but you can’t leave people alone after that,” Jörg Litwinschuh head of the Magnus Hirschfeld Institute which fights homophobia in sport, told the paper.

Far more welcome than further platitudes from the DFB, said Litwinschuh, would be long term initiatives with youth groups and trainers to tackle homophobia in football at its roots.

For German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also, the leaflet is a cop-out. “Why can’t a Bundesliga coach just put a rainbow flag on his chair?” she told Die Welt.

Unlike elsewhere in the world – notably the US – to date there are no openly gay professional German players.

The Local/jlb

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