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Former goalkeeper for German national team advises gay players to stay closeted

Oliver Kahn cites abuse from fans as potential problem for out gay players

Oliver Kahn is a former goalie for the German national team. Credit: batomefutebol.files.wordpress.com

A former goalkeeper for the German national team advises gay players to stay in the closet, even as he concludes that homosexuality is not a “big deal” in society anymore, Pink News reports.

“It may sound sad, but I wouldn’t advise [a gay player] to come out,” Oliver Kahn, 44, says.

He says abuse from fans of opposing teams is a potential problem for gay players.

“On top of that, how will it go down with the sponsors?” Kahn asks. “What will it mean for your career? The situation is more difficult than at first glance.”

While Kahn’s point of view dovetails with that of Germany's current team captain, Philipp Lahm, both men’s perspectives contrast with that of the former head of the German Football Association, Theo Zwanziger, who last year called on gay players to come out of the closet.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also joined the debate late last year when she said gay footballers should have no fear in declaring their sexuality, football.co.uk reported.

“I am of the opinion that anyone who sums up the strength and bravery — and we have a long tradition of this behind us in politics — should know that they live in a land where they have nothing to fear.”

Merkel added, “The fact that there are still fears for some people for their own situation means we need to send out a clear message: you must not be afraid.”

In November 2010, German striker Mario Gomez also said being gay shouldn’t be a “taboo topic,” suggesting that openly gay footballers “would play as if they had been liberated.”

In May, American player Robbie Rogers, who retired from soccer after coming out but returned to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy, received a standing ovation from spectators when he ran onto the pitch to play against the Seattle Sounders.

Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chairman Clarke Carlisle has said that at least eight players have told him they are gay, with seven saying they are reluctant to go public because of the potential negative reaction of fans and media.

"We have anecdotal evidence that players are out within their clubs and don't have a problem . . . we are trying to create an atmosphere for people to come out safely, but at the moment there is a big barrier," Gay Football Supporters Network chairman Chris Basiurski says in the report. "The fact is, we have never really tested the fans, both home or away, on this."