Arsenal star says an elite male player needs to come out if football is ever to accept homosexuality

Lily Wakefield February 6, 2020
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Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal

Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal and Bristol City. (Kate McShane/Getty)

Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema has said that it would take an elite male player coming out as gay for football to ever accept homosexuality.

Miedema, who plays internationally for the Netherlands, is openly gay and is in a relationship with Arsenal team-mate Lisa Evans.

While there are several high-profile female players, only one footballer has ever come out while playing for the England’s professional men’s league.

Justin Fashanu confirmed his sexuality in 1990, but struggled to cope with the pressures of tabloid attention and a backlash from fans. He eventually took his own life in 1998.

When asked if she thought a high-profile men’s player coming out now would help combat homophobia in football, Miedema told the Press Association: “Obviously I like to think so.”

She added: “If someone was to come out and that player is fully respected, from there on it would be easy for a lot of other boys to come out as well. I think you should do what you want and let people do whatever they feel good with.”

The elite Arsenal player said she thinks the focus should be on the fact that players all “share the same passion”.

She continued: “At the time right now I think we are too busy thinking about everybody else but ourselves and I think we need to focus on ourselves.

“Why does it change the player if he is gay or not? Why does it change the player if he or she is from Holland, from Africa, from Australia? We are all the same so why can’t we just accept how we are and who we are and go from there.

“Just enjoy football and enjoy life, that is how easy it is for me anyway… We are all the same. You all have the same passion, you all want to play football.”

In 2019, an anonymous Twitter user amassed 50,000 followers, claiming to be an English Premier League footballer who intended to come out gay.

But the Twitter account was later deleted, after the user posted the message: “I thought I was strong enough. I’m not.”

Gareth Thomas, who was the first openly gay professional rugby union player, said that he had contacted the anonymous player to offer “support”. 

Thomas said: “He is a young kid who had an understanding of who he was but didn’t have an understanding of where he fitted in.”

More: arsenal, football, Gareth Thomas, homophobia in sport, Justin Fashanu

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