Pascal Erlachner, a professional soccer referee in Switzerland, has come out publicly as gay. He told the publication Blick that he is coming out generate “public discussion” about gay men in soccer.

“For me personally, my homosexuality is now normal,” Erlachner told Blick. “I have a solid life, have a great relationship and a great family. I feel very comfortable with the other referees and have good colleagues. Those who like me like me the way I am. I'm confident enough now. I can stand there and say: Yes, I'm gay – so what? I'm ready for this step and wonder what I trigger with it.”

His announcement has been met with public support from various people across the Swiss sports world, including some in soccer.

“I can sense that for Pascal Erlachner, with his exposed work as a referee, it took a lot of courage to take this step to the public eye,” said former national team member and FC Basel head coach Raphaël Wicky. “He has my respect and my full solidarity.”

Erlachner is 37 years old and lives in Wangen bie Olten, in the northern part of Switzerland, with his partner. Erlachner’s full-time occupation is school teacher.