First openly gay footballer in Europe calls for open discussion on sexuality among UK players

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The first openly gay footballer has called for a more open discussion on sexuality among players in UK teams.

Anton Hysén, a player for Sweden, claimed that if players in Premier League teams came out as gay then it would help combat stigmatises and homophobia.

The 25-year-old, who was born in Liverpool, was the first European player to come out in 2011 breaking a huge taboo in the game.

He received praise for being open and managed to dodge the expected abuse.

Since learning from is own experience of coming out publicly, Hysén is trying to encourage English footballers who are still in the closet to follow suit.

Hysén told the Mirror: “If no one has done it, how do you know England isn’t ready for it? If no one does it, you can’t ­speculate. Just because you see all the ­negative comments, you don’t know what’s going to happen.

“It’s insulting to supporters in England to suggest that they’re not ready to support a gay footballer. The players who are there to play football will support whoever it is that steps forward. When I came out, I was excited. I was like, ‘Yes, now I’m going to see who’s real and who’s not real’.

“I couldn’t give a s*** about the people who thought less of me. I maybe got one or two bits of abuse from supporters or players I was up against.

“To be honest, any abuse I did get said far more about the people that said it than me. It just illustrated how uneducated they were to have such bigoted views.”

Hysén believes English football will benefit from having an open discussion about homosexuality, and that it is insulting to Brits to think they would not be bale to handle the news.

In the past he has revealed that he has had a number of phone calls from anonymous footballers who want to come out.

“We had Justin Fashanu a long time ago, but I feel we’ve become a lot more progressive since then. Football has completely changed, but so has society.

“As recently as the 1970s, homosexuality was considered a disease – it’s not that long ago that gay people didn’t even feel safe on the streets here. But things are looking better and the environment is right for a ­footballer to come out.

“Yes, you need support around you. But the player, or players – because I know there’s more than one in the Premier League – need to be strong.

“I’m so proud of what I’ve done and everything has been so much better after I decided to come out.

“If a Premier League player did come out, it would be huge for ­football – not just in England, but across the world.”