Arsenal’s Héctor Bellerín doesn’t think soccer is ready for a gay footballer just yet
Arsenal right back Héctor Bellerín doesn’t think soccer is ready for a gay footballer just yet.
The footballer – who has made a name for himself as a high-profile advocate for LGBT+ issues in the sport – told The Times that stigma still pervades, making coming out difficult for any soccer player.
Bellerín said he has heard shocking stories of discrimination from members of the Gay Gooners, Arsenal’s LGBT+ supporters group.
Speaking about whether he expects any players to come out in the near future, Bellerín said: “I don’t know if football is ready for that yet.”
Coming out as gay in sport is still ‘taboo’, says Arsenal’s Héctor Bellerín.
He continued: “I’m having conversations with Gay Gooners, and sometimes they go to an Arsenal pub and they’ll have issues with other Arsenal fans because they’re wearing a Gay Gooners scarf or something.
“Which, to me, is crazy. We’re all part of the same family.
“It is somehow a taboo subject.
“We can have talks in the dressing room about all this stuff, but I’ve never heard of anyone [being gay],” he added.
“No one’s ever heard of anyone. I would say if there was someone who knew someone, they will keep it quiet anyway.
“For the sake of that person, like, trying to protect them.”
Justin Fashanu became the UK’s first openly gay professional footballer when he came out in 1990. He tragically died by suicide eight years later.
To this day, he remains the only top-tier male football star to come out as LGBT+ while currently playing. Thomas Beattie, a retired English player who played at professional level in Scotland, Norway, Canada and Singapore, came out in June 2020, while Robbie Rogers, an American player who played for Leeds FC, came out after leaving the club in 2013.
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Amal Fashanu, the footballer’s niece, now runs the Justin Fashanu Foundation, which focuses on racism, homophobia and mental health in the sport.
Speaking to The Sun in May 2020, Amal Fashanu said her organisation has been in touch with five professional gay footballers who are afraid to come out publicly.
She suspects a professional player will come out as gay within the next five years, but none of them wants to be first.
“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.”