Real Madrid pro Toni Kroos warns gay footballers against coming out because he ‘can’t guarantee they won’t be abused’
Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos has said he would advise a gay footballer to stay in the closet because of rife homophobic abuse in the sport.
Kroos, who also plays on Germany’s national team, told the German edition of GQ magazine that he would not feel confident advising players to come out because of the risk of abuse.
He said: “My common sense tells me, of course, that everyone should be free to live openly in the 21st century. But I don’t know if I would advise an active player to come out of the closet.
“Sometimes people throw certain words around on the pitch, and given the emotions of fans in the stadium, I couldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t be insulted or abused.”
Kroos added: “That shouldn’t be the case, and the player who comes out would have a lot of support from everyone [on the pitch], but I’m not sure whether that would be the case in a stadium full of opposing fans.
“Each person has to make a personal decision to consider all of the advantages and disadvantages, but I think, even to this day, they wouldn’t all be advantages.”
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There are still no openly gay footballers in the top tiers of the sport.
Former German national player Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out in 2014 after his retirement from the sport, remains one of the only top-tier players to have opened up about their sexuality. Hitzlsperger is currently a manager for Bundesliga team VfB Stuttgart.
American player Robbie Rodgers, who came out as gay in 2013, also only did so after stepping back from top-tier football.
Amal Fashanu, the niece of deceased gay footballer Justin Fashanu and a prominent campaigner against homophobia in the sport, said last month that she has provided support to seven players who are in the closet.
She said: “For a long time the game has been ignoring the issue, but at long last this appears to be changing. The [UK Professional Footballers’ Association] has contacted me and made it clear they want to help address the issue.
“They are worried about any player who is suffering in silence. They want to do all they can to make sure any player who wants to make that step is supported.”
“No one wants to be the first,” she said previously. “In their minds these guys are trapped, ashamed. They think society won’t accept it so instead they live their lives in secret.
“It’s sad that this has to happen. But they would be a trailblazer.”