Eddie Howe, the manager of A.F.C. Bournemouth in England’s Premier League, has publicly offered his support for gay athletes, saying in the latest issue of winq magazine that a player’s sexual orientation would have no bearing on his willingness to sign him.

“I would sign a gay player without hesitation if they were the right player for the club, absolutely no doubt about it,” Howe said. “The football and the footballer’s character are the things that define a career, not sexuality.”

Believe it or not, he’s the first Premier League manager to make such a commitment to equality. While countless coaches and general managers in the United States have made these public statements (with some of them actually signing gay athletes), Howe is the first in the Premier League. Crazy.

He added that he believes it is inevitable that one of his players will come out to him.

“As a manager you like to try and prepare yourself for every scenario that you may face. You think about every eventuality and being prepared for anything. So I would like to think I have the right mentality for when that day comes, and it will, when one of my players walks into my office to have that conversation.”

Certainly, publicly talking about this and saying what he said makes it more likely that a player will come out to him. Hopefully he and the club will go further in showing support for the LGBT community. Hiring an out gay person in the front office or hosting a Pride event would be two positives steps.

Bournemouth is currently in 11th place of the 20 Premier League teams.

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