Germany: Pamphlet advises gay football players to come out ‘quietly’

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A new leaflet due to be issued by the German Football Association (DFB) is advising gay football players to come out at the end of the season in order to avoid media and public attention.

The DFB’s “Right way to come out!” is an advice pamphlet designed to target and help gay football players come out of the closet.

However, players considering taking this step are advised to save their announcement until “just as the season comes to an end” because the news will have a media “half-life.”

The pamphlet explains that this will allow time for public attention to die down before the new season opens.

Several critics have come out to oppose the pamphlet’s more cynical approach to LGBT solidarity in sports.

Jörg Litwinschuh, head of the Magnus Hirschfeld Institute, which fights homophobia in sport, has said: “Publishing a brochure is one thing, but you can’t leave people alone after that.”

Mr Litwinschuh also said that he would rather welcome more long term initiatives with youth groups and trainers to tackle the problem of homophobia in football at its roots.

The German Justice Minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, also criticised the leaflet. She said in an interview with Die Welt: “Why can’t a Bundesliga coach just put a rainbow flag on his chair?”

Last week, the German second division football club St Pauli decided to permanently fly a rainbow flag as a symbol against homophobia and discrimination.

St Pauli vice-president Dr Gernot Stenger said: “With this flag, we are giving this highly-visible sign that these issues have great importance at St. Pauli and we are working hard on them.”

In September, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel told gay footballers that they should not have anything to fear in being open with their sexuality.

She said: “Anyone who sums up the strength and bravery should know that they live in a land where they have nothing to fear.”

Back in April fans of the St Pauli football squad demonstrated against homophobia during a game against Paderborn, and were coordinated by Alerta Network, which describes itself as an “antifascist movement”.

To date, there are no openly gay football players in Germany.