Germany: Football Association sets up support group for gay players

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A working group has been set up by the German Football Association in order to provide support for and prepare clubs to deal with the potential for gay footballers coming out.

The support group will include representatives from the German Football League (DFL), as well as an openly gay former footballer.

Sports sociologist, Gunter Pilz, who is leading the group said:”We will prepare an internal guide with the assistance of outside experts,” reports the AFP.

“The idea is to help clubs and associations be prepared for a possible outing so they can help provide the best possible assistance.”

Mr Pilz went on to say that he did not know any gay footballers who wanted to come out. He said: “Whether a professional football player decides to come out, remains the personal decision of each individual”.

The support group is to include Marcus Urban. He retired from football in the 90s, and was the only German footballer to have come out.

“We want to give the sports world the chance to show it’s not as intolerant as it is sometimes presented,” Mr Urban said.

In January last year, Germany’s gay footballers were urged to come out by the former head of the country’s Football Association, Theo Zwanziger.

Bayern Munich and German national football captain Philipp Lahm said last year that he did not believe society was ready to accept gay professional footballers.

In September last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told gay footballers they should have no fear of coming out at a forum in Berlin to discuss integration in sport.

West Ham footballer, Matt Jarvis, has appeared on the cover of Attitude magazine in January, and gave an interview saying gay footballers should come out, that they would be supported, and that they might even play better if they did.