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FIFPro praises the tremendous courage shown by Anton Hysén, the young Swedish professional footballer who recently admitted that he is a homosexual. ‘Hopefully, Anton will encourage other players to go public.’

 

‘I am a footballer. And I am gay’, Anton Hysén stated in his coming out interview with Swedish magazine Offside. ‘If I perform as a footballer, then I do not think it matters if I like girls or boys. Or does it?’ The 20-year old is under contract at the Swedish second division side Utsiktens BK (fourth professional level).

 

Tony Higgins, board member of FIFPro Division Europe and spokesperson of FIFPro Anti-Racism, is impressed by the step taken by Anton Hysén. ‘It requires tremendous courage for a professional footballer to come out and admit to being homosexual especially as many in football consider it a taboo subject.’

 

‘Anton Hysén has admitted to being gay, and whatever lies ahead for him, I’m sure an incredible weight has been lifted from his shoulders. FIFPro fully supports Anton in his declaration and encourages all member unions and football in general to offer unconditional support to any player in these circumstances.’

 

In his statement, Anton Hysén dared his colleagues in the world of football to follow his example: ‘Where  is everyone else? There has not been another footballer that has come out.’

 

The Swedish defender is not the only person who asked this question, Tony Higgins knows. ‘People often question why more footballers don’t admit to being gay. Many other sports have taken a lead in this area and I think football and society now in certain parts of the world would be able to deal with it better than they would’ve done many years ago.’

 

 

‘In the 1990’s I represented the first famous footballer in the UK to admit to being gay, Justin Fashanu. I dealt with him in a dispute with Heart of Midlothian. Justin was an engaging personality with a great sense of humour. Society then wasn’t ready to deal with people like Justin and sadly he committed suicide years later, in 1998.’

 

‘Society has moved on since then and in this case football has to catch up with society. Football requires players with the courage of their own convictions to break the mould.’

 

‘I recall in the early 1990’s when Scotland had a major problem with racism in football. Although we in the union initiated a campaign to combat racism it was only when the black players themselves and particularly Paul Elliot (FIFPro Anti- Racism Ambassador) got fully behind the campaign that real change began to happen.’

 

‘Hopefully Anton will encourage other players who wish to be honest about their sexual orientation to go public. As with any form of discrimination, FIFPro is fully committed to its eradication.’

 

‘A very, very brave move’

‘People say there must be homosexuals in football because of the huge numbers’, PFA’s chief executive and FIFPro honorary president Gordon Taylor said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

 

‘I’ve raised it time and time again with my management staff. They tell me: Gordon, we can’t drag them out of the closet, say here he is, he’s homosexual, we are going to protect him and he’s proud of it. If he gets abuse, he’ll say, I was better where I was.

 

‘While we have made massive improvement in crowd behaviour, it would still be a very, very brave move for a player to come out. If anybody comes out it is more acceptable in fashion or entertainment, but not in football because it’s a macho world.’

 

‘We, the PFA, have a special protection program ready. I would say to any player who came out that you can rely on the PFA to support you all we can. If any crowd abuses you, we will get in touch with that club through the FA to say that’s not acceptable. Same with any clubs or players who abused you.’