Italy manager: gay players welcome but may cause locker room complications

The manager of Italy’s national football team has said he does not think there are any gay professional footballers, but a gay man would not be excluded from playing.

Marcello Lippi’s comments are significant as last month a third division player turned rent boy, identified only as Victory, claimed he is paid 1500 euros (£1300) for his services by Italy stars.

In an interview on TV station La 7 the man claimed:

“I have about 30 clients who are footballers and I would say that a dozen are Serie A and national team players – several times I have been asked to take part in group sex sessions.

“They all know I am a footballer as well but they like me because I am discreet.

“A lot of them are bisexual, they are married or have girlfriends. They have a respectable image but none of them will ever admit to being gay, not for the time being anyway.”

Mr Lippi said in a podcast posted online this week:

“I don’t think there are any gay players, or at least in 40 years of my career I have never met any.

“It could well be that there are a few with these tendencies, but they don’t go around telling people about it.

“Considering the way football players are, it really would be a complicated condition to deal with in the locker room.”

He said that under him nobody would be excluded from the national team because they are gay.

“If someone came to me and confessed they were gay, I would advise them to not let any of that affect them, just concentrate on their profession and feel free to do what they want in their private lives.”

In October a British former professional football player told a forum on homophobia he knows of a dozen gay men at the top of the game.

Paul Elliott, who played for Celtic, Chelsea and Aston Villa during his 12 year career, was speaking at Homophobia: Football’s Final Taboo, hosted by the FA at their central London headquarters.

Mr Elliott, who now works as an adviser to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said gay players do not come out because they fear the reaction of fans.

Justin Fashanu was the only British professional footballer so far to confirm he was gay. He came out in 1990 and committed suicide in 1998.

In December a survey of 400 professional footballers in the Netherlands for magazine Voetbal International revealed that 60% think there is no place for a gay man in the game and 25% think homosexuality will always be taboo.

Sepp Blatter, President of the Federation of International Football, commented last year:

“There are gay footballers, but they don’t declare it because they think it will not be accepted in these macho organisations.”

In April Luciano Moggi, A former managing director of Juventus, claimed there are no gays in the game.

He was speaking on the KlausCondicio programme on Italian television.

“There are no gays in football,” he claimed.

“I don’t know if players are against having them in their team but I definitely am.

“In the teams where I worked there were never any. I never wanted to have a homosexual player and I still wouldn’t sign one.

“I’m old school but I know the ambience of football and a gay wouldn’t be able to survive within it.

“A homosexual cannot do the job of a footballer.

“The football world is not designed for them, it’s a special atmosphere, one in which you stand naked under the showers.”

His homophobic comments chime with the reality for openly gay professional players – there are none.

Mr Moggi is banned from football until 2011 for his role in a corruption scandal.