clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

German soccer referee says there’s a shocking number of gay men in Bundesliga

New, comment

The number he claims is hard to believe.

FC Bayern Munich v 04 Bayer Leverkusen
Babak Rafati officiating a match in 2005.
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

A former top-tier soccer referee in the German league Bundesliga says he knows of many gay professional soccer players in Germany. The number of gay players he claims to be on each team may be hard to believe.

“Yes, I know gay footballers and referees in the Bundesliga,” said Babak Rafati, according to the Star-Observer. “There are three to four gay players in every team.”

There are 18 teams in the top-tier Bundesliga, putting the number of gay athletes in the league, according to Rafati, at over 50.

While his claim of three to four players on each team is hard to believe, it’s interesting that he talks about knowing some of the gay players and referees. He knows them. They are there.

Though we’ll maintain a bit of skepticism about three to four per team. That would be around 10-15% of the league. Most studies put the number of gay men in society in the vicinity of 4-5%.

Only one former Bundesliga player that we know of, Thomas Hitzlsperger, has come out publicly as gay, doing so after he retired from soccer.

Rafati was a referee in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga from 2000 to 2011. His career ended when he missed a match because of a suicide attempt because of what he called “depression.”