Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez has urged gay footballers to come out of the closet.
The player told German magazine Bunte that homosexuality was a “taboo topic” in sport, Die Zeit reports
His comments mark a change from the norm in German sports, as a number of players who have recently spoken about the issue warned that anyone coming out would face huge pressure.
Gomez said: “They would play as if they had been liberated. Being gay should no longer be a taboo topic.”
He added that there were plenty of role models in German society to inspire gay players come out.
“We’ve got a gay vice-chancellor [Guido Westerwelle]; the Berlin mayor [Klaus Wowereit] is gay. So professional footballers should own up to their preference,” he said.
In March, former German football manager Rudi Assauer said gay men should not play football because they will be ridiculed.
He said: “If a player came to me and said he was gay I would say to him: ‘You have shown courage’. But then I would tell him to find something else to do.
“That’s because those who out themselves always end up busted by it, ridiculed by their fellow players and by people in the stands. We should spare them these witch hunts.”
Tim Wiese, a player for Germany and Werder Bremen, said that gay players would came out would be “destroyed” by “merciless fans”, while Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm said that openly gay players would struggle to cope with the scrutiny.
Currently, there are no out gay players in the German Bundesliga. Marcus Urban, who played for the national youth teams in the 1990s before settling at second division club Rot-Weiss Erfurt did come out but quit the game immediately afterwards.