There’s only been one openly gay male professional soccer player in British history. But a Premier League captain says there are many more. In fact, he believes there’s probably at least one on every team.
In a recent interview with BBC, Watford striker Troy Deeney said he’s certain there are multiple gay or bisexual make soccer players in leagues throughout Great Britain.
“I would go on record saying that there is probably one gay or bi person (on) every football team,” he said. “They’re there. They are 100 percent there.”
Justin Fashanu, whose professional career spanned nearly 20 years, came out in a magazine interview in 1990. He committed suicide in 1998 at the age of 37, following a sexual assault accusation levied against him by a 17 year old while he was coaching soccer in Maryland. Fashanu was inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame earlier this year.
While there are multiple out women soccer players in Britain, the Premier League has a long-standing problem with homophobia. Deeney says he understands the climate is intimidating, but if one player comes out, he believes dozens would follow suit.
“If they came out and said it, I genuinely believe you would get, in the first week, at least 100 people that went ‘me too,’” he said. “Just because they don’t want to be the face of it.”
With the Premier League back from its coronavirus-induced pause, Deeney says he thinks any gay player would have a bigger platform than ever. Still, he understands it is difficult to be the first one.
“I also wonder why people finish football, rugby, whatever the sport it might be, and then go, ‘I am gay’,” Deeney said. “I feel like it must be a real heavy load to carry throughout all your whole sporting career.”