David Testo (United States, 1981): This American played in the Montreal Impact of the MLS as a midfielder. Even though Testo is not very well known, in November 2011, he entered the spotlight when he came out as gay. Months later, it’s said that the tema did not renew his contract.
“I was aware that I would not be able to continue playing in this way. I knew that if I wanted to continue on I had to come out of the closet and the people had to know”
“I’m regret for not having come out of the closet earlier.”
Robbie Rogers (United States, 1987): After his time with the English Leeds United, Robbie Roggers confirmed his homosexuality in 2013. The athlete received congratulations from Barack Obama for the courage it must have taken him to come out publicly in an environment as difficult as the sport world. However, the midfielder decided to leave football after 25 years in the sport. A few months later, one of the best teams of the United States MLS, Los Angeles Galaxy, decided to incorporate his team, therefore making Rogers the first openly gay athlete in the soccer league. Nevertheless, he announced his official retirement on November 7, 2017.
“I was scared to show myself the way I really am. Scared to be judged and not achieve my dreams and aspirations. Scared that I would be treated differently, scared that my secret would get in the way of my dreams of being a global athlete. It’s time for me to leave, to find myself away from football. I am a free man.”
“My happiest years as a football player were those in which I left a match, crossed the tunnel, and met my partner and my son whom were waiting for me there. And the only thing I regret of the eleven years of my career is that I spent them in the closet.”
Anton Hysén (Switzerland, 1990):
In 2011, he came out of the closet through the March edition of the Swiss magazine, “Offside”. Hysén is a Swiss football player who plays in the Swiss third division of “Utsiktens BK”, where his father (and ex-international Liverpool football player) is the trainer, despite having been part of the lower selections of his country.
“I’m very sure of who I am. I was born like this and I do not have anything to hide.”
“There is a misconception that all football players need to be macho and have a supermodel girlfriend.”
Liam Davis (England): The 27 year old football player is from the county of Lincolnshire and who plays as midfielder in the “Cleethorpes Town FC” of the Northern Premier League. In 2014, he revealed that he was gay. Liam first came out to his family, and then later to his friends, at 18 years old. He also runs a restaurant with his partner in Cleethorpes. He has only experienced one homophobic interaction from a rival who was then denounced and penalised with suspension from 5 games.
“There were few questions, people did not ignore me or anything. Life continued on as normal.”
“My sexual orientation has no relevance when I play football. It’s just football. A ball, a goal, a team.”
“We are all equal in football. Being gay should never be a cause for stigma.”
Yoann Lemaire (France): In 2010, “Chooz”, an amatuer, French football club, denied registration to Yoann Lemaire. Lemaire was subject to homophobic bullying from the club and his own teammates after he publicly came out as gay. All of this after he had played on the team for 14 years. A documentary by Michel Royer tries to shine a light on Lemaire’s situation and the homophobic atmosphere of French football. The documentary was screened on May 17 2018 and coincided with the Russian World Cup.
Jaiyah Saelua (American Samoa): American Samoa is a band of small Islands under US sovereignty. Until a few years ago, the islands had taken up little space in football news because they had been on the receiving side of impressive goals by other teams. However, in 2011, the Samoans decided to queue up Johnny Saelua in the 2014 World Cup elimination rounds. He was the first transgender to participate in a FIFA competition. Transgender people embody a widely accepted third sex in polynesian culture, the “Fa’afafine”.
Ryan Atkin (United Kingdom, 1985): In 2017, through an interview in the Sky Sports series, Ryan Atkin was the first professional referee to publicly come out as homosexual. He is the fourth referee in the Premier League competitions, and the principal referee in minor competitions. With his decision to come out publicly, Atkin hopes to help combat homophobia in football. He began refereeing in 1999 and supportec the campaign “cordones arcoiris” or “rainbow laces” started by the British organisation Stonewall and also supported by the British Federation, the Premier League, and the British Football League.
“I hope that my action, though it may be small, gives others in a similar situation the confidence to be themselves.”
“I believe that ‘being yourself’ without fear at the end of the day is what makes you the happiest, which in turn makes you a better person.”
“Modes of conduct are important in order to demonstrate that being gay and interested in football do not exclude each other in any way.”
“Homophobia is always a problem, but things are getting better day by day. The game and the culture can change if the mentality changes.”
Pascal Erlachner (Switzerland, 1980): Referee for the highest level of Football in Switzerland, he wanted to advance the cause and come out of the closet through an extensive interview in the Sunday, 12 December 2017 edition of the German newspaper “Blick”. A former football player, Erlachner now works as a Physical Education instructor in a high school, and has been refereeing since 2010, although he was a football player before.
“I hope that my coming out will contribute to the public debate. If we do not talk of something, it becomes stagnant, and stagnation means regression.”
“I feel very comfortable refereeing and I have great friends. The people who I like, like me as I am.”
“There are still many people who suffer from hiding their homosexuality. Especially in football. Only if my experience serves to help a football player or another referee, will I feel rewarded.”