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FIFPro condemns all forms of discrimination. Thomas Hitzlsperger volunteered himself to highlight the issue of his own homosexuality and his strength in the face of prejudice must be encouraged.

FIFPro, the World Footballers' Union, representing 65 thousand professionals, expects a non-discriminatory work environment and equal employment opportunities for all players regardless of economic or social status, race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, or age.

The General Secretary of FIFPro, Theo van Seggelen, hopes the world will listen to Hitzlsperger, "He should feel proud and know that he has FIFPro's support, which we extend to all footballers in need of our guidance."

"We can applaud his actions as it is another important step to empower gay footballers who perhaps live in fear and silence. As football is the world's most popular game, let's hope it is received by the wider public in a positive way to break down unacceptable boundaries of discrimination."

In England, where Hitzlsperger wore the colours of Aston Villa, West Ham United, Everton and Chesterfield, the country's Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) stated, 'It is great that Hitzlsperger has discussed his sexual orientation openly. The PFA hopes to learn from his experiences as a player.'

FIFPro board member, Dejan Stefanovic, who represents SPINS, the Slovenian players' union, said, 'In a still chauvinist football locker room environment, the act of Thomas Hitzlsperger derserves full respect. Show discrimination the red card!'

Many have been willing to support Hitzlsperger, including former England footballer Gary Lineker, who said via his Twitter account: 'Congratulations to Thomas Hitzlsperger on bravely being the first player to have played in the Premier League to "come out".'

Germany and Arsenal attacker, Lukas Podolski said, "Brave and right decision. Respect, Thomas Hitzlsperger. His outing is a important sign in our time."

The General Manager of Germany's national team, Oliver Bierhoff, said, "While Thomas was still a Germany international, none of us knew anything about his homosexuality. He only turned to us after the end of his career and informed us. For him now to go public deserves recognition and respect. I welcome this step and we will give him all the support he needs to be able to follow his courageous path."

Hitzlsperger, 31, a former German international midfielder, who enjoyed the limelight of England's Premier League, Italy's Serie A and Germany's Bundesliga, came forward in an interview with German newspaper ..

Listen to Thomas Hitzlsperger in this revealing interview.

 

Contact your local union or FIFPro

If you are a player who requires advice on how to deal with any issue relating to discrimination in the workplace, please contact your local union. Alternatively, FIFPro's legal department is always available for advice on +31 23 5546970.