Leading Swiss football referee comes out as gay
A top Swiss football referee has come out as gay.
Pascal Erlachner is believed to be the first man in professional football in Switzerland to come out.
He said on coming out that he will start a dialogue to help dispel the idea that being gay and football don’t mix.
Speaking to Swiss paper Blick, Erlachner said he is in a relationship and he is comfortable enough to come out as gay.
He said: “I can stand there and say: Yes, I’m gay – so what?”
The referee has said he knows the decision to come out won’t prove to be popular with everyone, but that he is glad that he did so.
He added that he hopes his public coming out will help at least one person, and if it does then it will be worthwhile.
Erlachner has refereed in 73 Super League games and 80 Challenge League games.
He has said he is unsure whether coming out will affect his career, but that he hopes it will not.
And of reactions to his decision to come out, Erlachner said: “It’s nice for me to be able to talk about being gay openly now.”
Of coming out to his parents, he said they are “totally open and positive”.
“They told me that I was the same Pascal for them,” Erlachner continued.
“That they love me. And that they go through thick and thin with me. It was a very nice and very important moment. From there it went step by step upwards. Finally the truth was out. Finally, I was allowed to be what I am.”
The first openly gay referee in British football last month said that big-name footballers need to do more to tackle homophobia in the sport.
Professional referee Ryan Atkins, who came out as gay in August, is a key figure in Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign.
But although the star is happy to be a part of the campaign, he feels that there needs to be help from elsewhere to make it work.