Neymar is one of the best soccer players in the world. On Monday, he offered his unequivocal support to Jakub Jankto, the Czech pro soccer player who just publicly came out as gay.
In a press conference ahead of Paris Saint-Germaine’s upcoming contest Tuesday, Neymar, who plays for the renowned Ligue 1 club and the Brazilian national team, said it was a landmark day in European soccer.
“It’s an important day. Everyone is free, there should be less prejudice, whether that’s homophobia, racism, or any kind of discrimination,” he said, via Get Football News. “I wasn’t aware [of the announcement]. Every human being should be free to do as they want.”
While there have been two out players in Major League Soccer — Robbie Rogers and Collin Martin — European soccer leagues lag behind.
Jankto currently plays in Spain’s La Liga and competes for the Czech Republic on the international stage. In his coming-out video, he said he wants to live freely.
“Like everyone else, I have strengths, I have weaknesses, I have a family, I have friends, I have a job in which I have done the best I could for years, with seriousness, professionalism and passion,” he said. “Like everyone else, I too want to live my life in freedom. Without fear, without prejudice, without violence, but with love.”
February 13, 2023
It’s awesome to see the support that Jankto is receiving, especially given the troubling regression in LGBTQ inclusion we’ve seen across sports in recent months. Most notably, NHL teams have botched multiple Pride Night initiatives, with players refusing to wear rainbow warmup jerseys.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended those players, saying people must respect their “individual choices” to shun the LGBTQ community.
While FIFA rightfully came under fire for capitulating to Qatar in terms of spreading LGBTQ visibility during the World Cup, the international soccer body also released a statement of support.
We're all with you, Jakub. Football is for everyone ️ ❤️— FIFA (@FIFAcom) February 13, 2023
Jon Holmes, a U.K.-based journalist who covers LGBTQ inclusion in sports, says Jankto’s impact will be far-reaching.
Can't underestimate the impact of an active senior men's international footballer who's gay sharing his truth publicly - a first - but it's the power of Jakub Jankto's words and how he's using social media that really stands out. Because no one should have to hide. Bravo, Jakub. https://t.co/svo1EZdYzZ— Jon Holmes (@jonboy79) February 13, 2023
Jankto’s announcement has already compelled Neymar, an iconic figure in soccer, to publicly applaud him for living his truth.
That’s a pretty good start.