The former German international confessed there’s still a long way to go in the world of football went it comes to sexual prejudice.
There is no doubt that the world of football is far from being LGBT-friendly. Although several clubs, associations and leagues have created many initiatives, homosexuality is still a taboo subject for footballers and fans alike.
The first and only openly gay footballer was Justin Fashanu. The Englishman spent the majority of his career playing in the Premiership for Norwich City. Despite the fact that Fashanu was one of the most promising young players of his generation, his sexuality brought him a lot of issues on and off the pitch.
The English footballer had to face the prejudice of his teammates such as the legendary striker Brian Clough. In fact, his career was never the same after he came out. Moreover, Fashanu ended up committing suicide in 1998 when he was just 37 years of age.
Naturally, Fashanu’s tragic story acted as a cautionary tale for other homosexual footballers. In fact, only one other European player came out and did it after he retired from professional football. Thomas Hitzlsperger, who represented Germany’s national team a total of 52 times, is still the only professional footballer who dared to openly speak of his sexuality.
Lahm says supporters lack the maturity to embrace homosexual players.
Therefore, it is understandable that Philipp Lahm believes gay footballers should refrain from coming out while they’re still playing. History shows us that although society has evolved on this matter, football has not. In his new book, the former Bayern Munich player issued a warning for any other professionals who want to follow Fashanu’s lead.
“I don’t advise footballers to come out as a homosexual while they’re still playing. There’s still a lack of acceptance in the world of football and society in general.”
Moreover, the German shared an example of why it’s hard for players to be open about their sexuality before retirement.
“Not everyone has the same maturity at the stadiums where you play. They would have to bear insults, who likes that?”