Once again, British tabloids are teasing that a gay English soccer player is planning to publicly come out as gay.
This time, it’s apparently going to happen before the World Cup begins next month in Qatar.
The Sun, which has previously published erroneous rumors about gay Premier League players, says the “ex-Premier League ace” is upset over Qatar, a virulently anti-LGBTQ country, hosting the tournament.
“He’s hoping there will be many acts of protest against Qatar’s stance on homosexuality,” says a quote in the article attributed to an unnamed source.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and punishable by imprisonment or even death for Muslims. Just last week, the Human Rights Watch published a new report documenting Qatari arrests and abuses of gay people.
The Sun’s report references former Premier League player Gary Lineker’s recent comments about knowing of two gay players in the EPL.
It’s worth noting, however, that Lineker doesn’t predict the players will come out. He just says he would like to see it happen.
“It would be great if one or two of them came out during the World Cup. It would be amazing,” said Lineker, per Sky News. “I know for a fact that some have been very close and contemplated it. There’s a couple I know, but obviously it’s not for me to say who they are.”
In the past, Amal Fashanu, the niece of Justin Fashanu, the first gay British professional soccer player to publicly come out, has provided letters to British tabloids from allegedly closeted Premier League players detailing their anguish over being gay.
None of those players have ever publicly identified themselves.
British tabloids have an ugly history of engaging in faceless gay fear-mongering, especially when it comes to soccer. The practice is sensationalistic and tawdry, and propels the seedy narrative that homosexuality is taboo.
Maybe this time the Sun will be right, and that would be great to see. A prominent EPL player coming out days before the World Cup would be an extraordinarily powerful statement.
We’re just not holding our breath, at least until more evidence emerges.