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Thomas Hitzelperger (Germany, 1982): Hitzlsperger is internationally recognized by the German selection, and a football player for important teams such as Lazio, Everton, Wolfsburgo and Stuttgart. He is one of the few football players who was able to reveal his hmosexuality. Hitzelberger hoped to leave professional football in order to come out of the closet a year later in 2014.

“I announced my homosexuality because I wanted the question of homosexuality to advance in the world for professional sports.”

 

Olivier Rouyer (France): From 2008, he did not publicly confess to being gay. He was a 52 year old television commentator when he revealed his homosexuality during an interview with the sports newspaper, “L’Equipe”. From the 70’s to the 90’s Rouyer played in the terms such as the Nancy or the Lyon Olympics. Later, he also became a trainer for Nancy an Sion. After he came out of the closet, he denied that he was discharged from the Nancy for his homosexuality and not his professional performance. Another director of the club redressed and honored him in 2011.

“Yes, I am gay. At first I denied it, but I fell in love and I got tired of lying.”

 

Marcus Urban (Germany, 1971): In the 80’s and 90’s, the football player Marcus Urban spent the majority of his career as midfielder in the “FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt” club of the old East Germany, which rose to the second division in unified Germany. He did not come out of the closet to his friends and family until 1994, after hanging up his cleats. After he came out publicly in 2007, he became a target of hate speech in the streets for many years. In 2008, he published a biography titled “Hidden Player: The story of the gay footballer Marcu Urban”. It  had a strong impact in Germany, and earned him the title of Advisor for Diversity in cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Weimar. Urban also works in the project: Football against homophobia” from the Magnus-Hirschfeld Foundation, and is a spokesperson for the Association for Diversity in Sports and in Society (Verein für Vielfalt in Sport und Gesellschaft).

“ ‘I am a football player, therefore I cannot be gay’. I used to repeat that phrase to myself…fighting to control every gesture, and not having any kind of life outside of football. In the end, I had to decide. The decision was between football or my life. I chose life.”

“I did not know any other gay or lesbian people, and the worst was thinking that I was sick or that something was wrong wit me. No one helped me. I was completely alone.”

“No world championship title gave me the peace of mind with which I now live.”

“ My motto is: If you want to know who your real friends are, come out of the closet!”

 

Wilson Oliver Elías (Uruguay, 1967): In 2005, at 38 years old and soon after abandoning his meteoric career football world for not being able to continue living in the marginalization and personal discrimination in which he felt immersed, Wilson finally felt like himself when he publicly came out as homosexual. A player for “Nacional” in Uruguay, he spent 20 years as an American and World champion. After it was made public that he went to gay leisure venues, Wilson was assigned to a minor team where he wa selected best player for 7 years straight. He tried to make a career for himself in Venezuela, Guatemala, or El Salvador, but he found the homophobic atmosphere even worse than in Uruguay. He returned to his country only to continue playing on minor teams until he finally hung up his cleats.

“I decided that in a short time I would leave football, because the people were so hostile of people different from them, and even those I met on the streets. I experienced a few terrible moments.”

“Now I realise…my life was not my life, rather the life that other people wanted. People often put you in a box that is very hard to leave.”

“One love makes up for another. My love for football was replaced for my love for my partner. It was him that helped me reclaim my life and leave the sport.”

 

Jonathan de Falco (Belgium, 1984): Falco played in the football club, Racing of Malina, in Malina, Belgium. However, he saw that there was no future in a career as a footballer due to repeated injuries, and he therefore started to live a double life. In the mornings he would train, and at night he would visit gay leisure venues. An adult films director asked him to participate in a film. After receiving the award for best newcomer of the year at 26 years old, he hung up his cleats and came out of the closet.

“None suspected anything. I the had known my sexual orientation, there would have been problems. The football world is not ready to accept openly gay players. There is still too much prejudice and not enough tolerance.”

“I’ve always felt attracted to men. Now I feel a lot more comfortable with myself.”

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