Burnley FC manager Sean Dyche has said that he understands the unwanted pressure of coming out as a professional footballer and would have no issue if a member of his team were to come out.
Dyche began managing the club in 2012 and has led them to two promotions to the Premier League in three seasons including once after relegation to the Championship in 2014-2015. He signed a contract with the club in 2018 and is set to remain manager until Summer 2022.
Speaking in an interview with The Guardian Dyche spoke about how a players sexuality is irrelevant to their abilities as a footballer: “Does being gay mean you can’t be a good footballer?
“No. So let’s crack on.”
He continued to discuss the difficulties that would stop a player coming out, commenting on recent rumours that a high-profile football player may come out in the coming weeks.
“This thing about ‘the next gay footballer’. Imagine the noise around that. They might not want it. You could not contain that information.”
In recent years the Premier League has supported the rainbow laces campaign endorsed by the Stonewall charity.
“Clubs and communities are stronger when everyone feels welcome, and it’s down to all of us to make that happen. That’s why we, the Premier League, proudly stand alongside Stonewall in promoting equality and diversity”, Stonewall said in a statement.
This involved players and captains wearing rainbow laces and armbands and a rainbow Premier League logo which was featured at matches.
However, despite campaigns such as the Rainbow Laces project, increased LGBT+ support and programs supporting diversity in sport, there are no currently playing, high-profile players who are out to the public.
Thomas Hitzlsperger, formerly of Aston Villa, West Ham and Germany midfielder came out but only following his retirement in 2014. Speaking about coming out in sport, Hitzlsperger says that some people advise players not to do so. However, Hitzlsperger has said that they should “listen to your own voice”.
Five years on and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you all for the support! #ComingOut 🌈
— Thomas Hitzlsperger (@ThomasHitz) January 8, 2019
It is hoped that more high-profile football players coming out could serve as role models for LGBT+ youth and that their presence along with diversity campaigns can make football more inclusive of LGBT+ players.
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