Italian TV personality and politician Alessandro Cecchi Paone claims he knows of gay men on Italy's 30-man provisional World Cup squad. From Football Direct News:
He told the IBTimes: "Unfortunately the football world is a very homophobic universe, a place where machismo has to be exhibited.
"I can assure you that within the locker rooms the sexual orientation of players is known and accepted."
He added when asked about homosexual players in the Italy squad: "Yes, there are. Don't ask me for names, because they are covered by privacy laws and it would also be in bad taste."
The key there is that the players are out to their teammates and it's not an issue. It's a theme we've heard over and over and over and over and over in sports. Teammates of gay athletes just don't care that one of the guys is gay.
Paone has talked about gay athletes in the past. From ESPN two years ago, after an Italian player was asked about gays in soccer:
The question Tuesday was asked by an Italian journalist, citing Alessandro Cecchi Paone, who co-wrote a book earlier this year with a title that can be translated as: "The champion in love. The banned games of sport."
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli wrote the preface to Cecchi Paone's book, in which he said, "Everyone should be free to live with their desires and their feelings. We all need to dedicate ourselves for a sports culture that respects individuals in every expression of truth and liberty."
Another Italy forward, Antonio Di Natale, said after the book came out in April that gay soccer players should not reveal their orientation.
Whatever the case, it's hard to believe these men would come out publicly any time around the World Cup. Either way, their teammates just don't care.
But oh, to be out and gay in Brazil this summer during the World Cup...