Bayern Munich and German national football captain Philipp Lahm does not believe society is ready to accept gay professional footballers.
Speaking to Fr-Online.de, Lahm likened football fans to spectators in a gladiatorial arena, and attributed the difficulty in acceptance to the “politically incorrect” nature of the sport.
He said: “The football stadium is rarely politically correct. Football is like gladiatorial combat. I do not think that society is at the point where it can accept gay professional footballers, as is already possible in other areas.”
The 28-year-old also went on to discuss the issues of depression and “burning out” which he said are still, in some cases, regarded as weakness within the football industry.
He also went on to downplay alleged rifts between himself and Michael Ballack, his predecessor as German captain, saying: “I think our relationship is made worse in public than it actually is.”
There are currently two openly gay professional footballers in the world: Anton Hysen and David Testo.
“But if you’re secure in yourself, it shouldn’t matter. If you just focus on football and what you like and what you’re good at, it shouldn’t matter.”
“It’s like carrying around a secret, you know, and carrying around luggage and just never being allowed to be yourself.”