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Poll: Soccer fans don't mind if World Cup player is gay

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The United States and Sweden are allegedly at opposite ends of soccer fan acceptance for gay World Cup players.

Thomas Hitzlsperger was on the German World Cup team in 2006 before coming out as gay.
Thomas Hitzlsperger was on the German World Cup team in 2006 before coming out as gay.
Mike Hewitt

There has never been an openly gay player in the World Cup, but according to a new poll fans in Europe and North America wouldn't have an issue with it. According to a poll conducted by the United Kingdom's Stonewall organization and Swedish developer Football Addicts, over half of football fans in each 2014 World Cup country in Europe and North America support the idea of a gay soccer player on their national team.

It's a bit of a surprise to see the United States rank at the bottom of the acceptance list, at 52%. Poll after poll have shown acceptance among pro-sports fans in the United States surpassing 60%. The U.S. fell below even Mexico, where 91% of the population is Catholic. So there's plenty of room for doubt of the poll's accuracy. The poll also put the U.S. well below the United Kingdom's fan acceptance rate of 73%, even though British soccer is a hotbed of homophobia. For what it's worth, Sweden and Denmark topped the list at 79% acceptance (though it's hard to believe 21% of either of those countries say they wouldn't support a gay member of their country's World Cup team).

There have certainly been closeted gay men playing in the World Cup, with Germany's Thomas Hitzlsperger (2006 World Cup) coming out in the last year. Robbie Rogers was on the United States' 30-man squad in 2010 but did not participate in the World Cup.