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German FA sets up group to help gay players

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told gay footballers they should have no fear of revealing their homosexuality

Image: Daniel Hambury/EMPICS Sport

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 footballer.

“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.”

Pilz stressed he did not know of any footballers who wanted to come out: “Whether a professional football player decides to come out, remains the personal decision of each individual”.

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

“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 footballer has revealed his homosexuality, senior figures here have actively encouraged them to do so.

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

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

But 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.”

- © AFP, 2013

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