The President of the Italian Footballers’ Association Damiano Tommasi has said he would not recommend players publicly come out, because football is “different to every other profession”.

The head of the Associazione Italiana Calciatori said people did not need to talk about their sexuality in order to work in a “civil environment”.

The former AS Roma midfielder and chief of the Association, told journalist Klaus Davi: “Homosexuality in football is still taboo.

“In this sport the players practically live with each other, it’s different to every other profession.

“Expressing your sexual preferences is difficult in all environments, even more so for a player who shares the locker room, which is an intimate space, with others.

“In our world there could be embarrassment. A sport where one gets undressed can make it more difficult when working together.”

Gay footballers are generally being encouraged to come out and many football associations are taking pains to tackle homophobia in the sport.

Swedish footballer Anton Hysen was the only out gay player in the world earlier this year, and called for professional players to come out, asking “Where are all the others?”.

Tommasi continued, saying: “I wouldn’t recommend coming out. However, I can exclude that in football there is talk of fear. Rather it is a personal issue. I don’t think one needs to talk about his sexual preferences in order to work or live in a civil environment.

“In the football world, everything that emerges from the locker room becomes a boomerang, even for those who want to bring a situation to light.

“Personally, I have never known gay football players. Maybe I did and just didn’t realise they were homosexual.”