Football star says being a lesbian player ‘provokes a lot of hate’
A star sportswoman has said that being a lesbian who plays football means facing a stream of threats and hate.
Nilla Fischer, who captains German side Wolfsburg and has played 170 times for Sweden, spoke out as football authorities continue to struggle to tackle homophobia within the game.
Earlier this month, Arsenal’s Spanish right-back Héctor Bellerín revealed that he has been called “lesbian” and “other kinds of homophobic insults” after growing his hair.
He said that in the current climate, “it is impossible that anybody could be openly gay in football.”
This is of course not the case in women’s football, which has many queer role models for aspiring female footballers, including new Manchester United manager Casey Stoney and Fischer herself, who has advocated for LGBT+ equality ever since she casually came out to the world.
The 34-year-old veteran, who’s represented her country at three World Cups and three Olympic Games, was asked about her love life by a reporter and responded honestly.
“It was just a random interview, they asked me if I was dating and I just told them everything: ‘Yeah I’m dating a woman and blah blah blah,’” she told The Guardian.
“The reaction was mostly just good,” Fischer recalled. “In the community it’s always positive.
“Of course with social media and the internet there is the opportunity for people to write their opinion and send it to you. They can hide behind the screen.”
The sporting star said her motivation came from the fact that other members of the LGBT+ community face similar or even heavier burdens without enjoying the same platform she does.
“I know there are people out there who get a lot more hate and more threats than I do, so I try to think about that and think: ‘I need to do this because it’s important for the rest of us,’” she explained.
“Most of it was good but being a woman playing soccer, and being a gay woman, provokes a lot of hate.
“We’ve come far but there’s a lot of work to do. I think when there is such a big reaction it shows we need to do more and we need to be more outspoken, because it’s not yet normal.”
The Champions League winner, who together with her wife Mariah-Michaela welcomed a baby boy, Neo, into the world last year after two trauatic miscarriages, explained: “Every person has to decide for themselves but for me it’s about taking the chance to help younger people.
“It’s important to be outspoken to show the public that it’s okay, it’s totally normal. I’m very happy with my life and any other person can be too.”
And she credited her wife, who works with domestic abuse victims, with giving her peace of mind.
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“It sounds weird maybe but I just play soccer,” Fischer said.
“Soccer means so much to me but it’s also just soccer. Before I met her it was the end of the world if we lost.
“But hearing what she does in her day job, with abused women, wakes you up. It’s just a totally different world.”
Just last month, a group of fanatics supporting Italian club Lazio came under fire after declaring certain seating spots in Rome’s Olympic Stadium off-limits to female fans.
This was just weeks after former Chelsea player Jason Cundy went on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and said that women’s voices were “too high-pitched” to commentate on football matches.
Cundy’s comments, which prompted a backlash on air and online, came in response to Vicki Sparks making history as the first-ever woman to commentate on a live televised World Cup game in the UK.