Arsenal boss: Society needs to ask why football does not have openly gay players

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has questioned the absence of openly gay footballers in the Premier League.

“If you look at the statistics, it is completely unrealistic [that there are no openly gay players in the Premier League],” he told Arsenal Magazine.

“You have to consider now that, in a society where you have gay marriage, why should people not come out?”

When asked about former German international Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out earlier this year, he said: “I found it brave and I think that normally you should not have had to speak about that.

“It [would be] good if four, five, six people come out and after that nobody speaks about it anymore because they just think it is people who live their life like they want to live it.”

Of Hitzlsperger the Frenchman added: “He could not come out during his career, which means we still have some progress to make in our game because he should not have had to wait until the end. But overall he should not have to come out at all because it should just be considered like anything else.”

When questioned about why Hitzlsperger felt he couldn’t come out during his career, Wenger replied: “Maybe our society isn’t advanced enough to consider that”.

He also questioned the continued debate on how coming out would relate to a player’s performance. The manager said: “It’s wrong to consider that – you would say that your value drops only if your performances drop.

“I believe that in the game you have to consider what’s important, and that’s what happens on the football pitch and how well people behave on the pitch. After that, it’s not our job to know what they do in their private life and the value of a player is considered just through his attitude and his performances.”

Speaking of the club’s LGBT fan group, the ‘Gay Gooners’, he added: “I’m very proud that Arsenal always fights against these discriminations. Arsenal are recognised and respected for two things – a respect of tradition and the club always tries to move forward. I think these kind of things show that we can do both.”