Fri, Feb 08, 2013 - Page 19 News List

DFB sets up group to help homosexual soccer players

AFP, BERLIN

The German Football Association (DFB) has set up a working group to provide information to help prepare clubs to deal with the potential outing of a gay professional soccer player.

“We will prepare an internal guide with the assistance of outside experts,” said sports sociologist Gunter Pilz, who is leading the group.

“The idea is to help clubs and associations be prepared for a possible outing so they can help provide the best possible assistance,” he said.

Pilz stressed he did not know of any soccer players who wanted to come out.

“Whether a professional football player decides to come out, remains the personal decision of each individual,” he said.

COME OUT

The working group will include Marcus Urban, who retired from soccer in the 1990s and is the only German soccer player to have come out, as well as representatives from the German Football League.

“We want to give the sports world the chance to show it’s not as intolerant as it is sometimes presented,” Urban told news.de.

While no current Bundesliga player has revealed his homosexuality, senior figures in Germany have actively encouraged them to do so.

In September last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told gay soccer players they should have no fear of revealing their homosexuality at a forum in Berlin to discuss integration in sport.

FULL SUPPORT

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has said that it was only a matter of time before a Bundesliga player comes out, while back in 2009, former DFB president Theo Zwanziger pledged full support for any footballer who did so.

However, current members of the national squad are divided on the topic.

In 2011, Germany striker Mario Gomez said openly gay footballers “would play as if they had been liberated. Being gay should no longer be a taboo topic.”

However, national team captain Philipp Lahm advised against it.

“An openly gay footballer would be exposed to abusive elements,” he told German magazine Bunte.

“For someone who does [come out], it would be very difficult,” Lahm said.

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