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Pro soccer referee comes out after gay slur used during championship match

Tom Harald Hagen is a FIFA referee. He says it’s time to get gay slurs out of the sport.

Real Sociedad de Futbol v Bayer Leverkusen - UEFA Champions League
Tom Harald Hagen is seen here officiating a UEFA Champions match in 2013.
Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

Tom Harald Hagen has come out publicly as gay after he officiated a match in which a gay slur was used by a player.

“It’s time to say I’m gay,” Hagen told Glomdalen (article is behind a pay wall). “Only positive things will come from this. For me it has always been a completely natural part of life. I never thought about when and how I will make this announcement, everything came naturally.”

The interview was published just a day after Hagen officiated the pro league’s championship match, during which a player called an opposing coach a gay slur, according to Fanatik.

“It is the height of irony that I was just leading that match,” Hagen said after the match, according to Nieuwsblad. “Maybe he said it on a whim, that can happen in football. But we have to get rid of it.”

Nieuwsblad also said that Hagen is the top soccer official in all of Norway.

Glomdalen’s coming out is similar to that of NBA referee Bill Kennedy, who came out publicly after allegedly being the target of gay slurs and threats thrown at him by Rajon Rondo.

In soccer, we’ve previously had a couple professional referees come out. Matthew Nelson in Major League Soccer, Pascal Erlachner in Switzerland and Ryan Atkin in the U.K. come to mind.

You can follow Tom Harald Hagen on Instagram @tomharaldhagen.