German football club VfL Wolfsburg: Captain will wear rainbow armband at ‘all matches’
Top-tier German football club VfL Wolfsburg has announced that its captain will wear a rainbow armband at “all future matches” to underline the team’s commitment to tackling homophobia.
The team plays in the Bundesliga, the highest tier of professional football in Germany.
Ahead of their opening game against FC Schalke, the team unveiled the armband that will be worn by captain Josuha Guilavogui.
The club explained that “all VfL team captains” will wear the rainbow band for games in the upcoming season, across the men’s, women’s and youth teams.
The initiative came about after VfL Wolfsburg women’s team captain Nilla Fischer – who tied the knot with her wife in 2013 – began wearing a rainbow armband on the field.
Following her lead, the club decided that the gesture should be extended to all VfL teams.
VfL general manager Jörg Schmadtke said: “As a club we stand for a tolerant society.
“That’s why we’re not only taking this stance against discrimination now but across the whole season and in all of our teams, sending out a clear signal that we stand for diversity.”
Guilavogui is happy to be on board.
He said: “As footballers we’re role models and we want to show with the rainbow symbol that everyone is welcome in our stadium and at our club.
“It doesn’t matter what colour your skin is, what gender you are, who you love, whether you’re disabled or what beliefs you have – football is there for everyone to enjoy.
“That’s what the rainbow represents and as a team we’re fully behind this message.”
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There are few openly gay male footballers in the country, although former German national team player Thomas Hitzlsperger is one of the few LGBT role models in the sport.
In 2014 an unnamed gay footballer in the Bundesliga spoke out anonymously about homophobia in the sport, claiming his teammates refused to shower naked once they discovered his sexuality.
Speaking to Deutche Welle, the anonymous German footballer, going by the pseudonym Nico, said: “By chance the team I was in found out that I was gay.
“After a training session I walked into the shower and I realised all of my teammates weren’t naked, but were wearing underpants.
“Of course I was totally shocked, and first I didn’t know why.
“Then I slowly realized: It’s because of me. In that moment I thought my career was over. I didn’t want to go to training anymore.
“That showed me that being gay just isn’t accepted in football. And that won’t change in the near future.”