Germany’s football captain has warned that gay players will face verbal abuse if they decide to come out of the closet.
Bayern Munich star Philipp Lahm, 27, said he would welcome gay players but claimed they would face difficulties.
He told Bunte magazine: “An openly gay footballer would be exposed to abusive elements.
“For someone who does [come out], it would be very difficult.”
Reports said Lahm’s remarks could land him in trouble with the German Football Federation, as they have been taken as discouraging gay players from coming out.
In February, Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said players should come out and not fear the reaction of fans.
When asked what gay footballers should do, he said: “Yes, those who are gay should say so. It relieves a burden.
“And the fans will get over it quickly. What matters is the performance delivered by the player, not his sexual preference.”
In November, Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez made similar comments.
He said: “They would play as if they had been liberated. Being gay should no longer be a taboo topic.”
However, former manager Rudi Assauer caused outrage in 2010 by saying that gay players would be ridiculed if they came out.
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.”
Currently, there is only one out gay footballer in the world – Swedish player Anton Hysen.