Thomas Hitzlsperger “Wants To Advance The Issue Of Homosexuality In Sport”

The former international is the first famous German footballer to his coming out.

Retired a few months, the former international Thomas Hitzlsperger, 31, broke a taboo in Germany, becoming the first footballer renowned reveal his homosexuality in an interview published Thursday in the journal Die Zeit. “I declare my homosexuality, because I want to move the issue of homosexuality in the world of professional sports,” he says.

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Awareness of his homosexuality was “a long and difficult process,” says former midfielder for 52 selections (2004-2010), formed by past Bayern Munich and Stuttgart and Wolfsburg (Germany, Aston Villa, West Ham, Everton (England) and Lazio before hanging up last season. “It is only in recent years that I realized that I preferred to live with a man, he says. In England, Germany or Italy, the issue of homosexuality is not taken seriously, especially not in the locker room. ”

Initial reactions have praised the courage of Munich. “A courageous and just decision. His announcement is an important signal for our time, “tweeted Lukas Podolski his international compatriot who plays for Arsenal.

Germany coach Joachim Loew said that the decision of the former member of the Mannschaft “must be respected by all,” hoping that “this revelation will help everyone to broach the subject with more relaxed.”

The head of the German Federation (DFB) Wolfgang Niersbach, the frontline in the fight against homophobia, assured Hiztlsperger “total support” of the national authority.

“We live in a country where we should not be afraid to reveal their sexuality, but only fear intolerance,” said for his part Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Even the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has tweeted his admiration: “As a fan of Aston Villa, I have always admired the behavior of Thomas Hitzlsperger, but I still admire today. A courageous and important step. ”

Support also came from the gay Italian Centre. “Will he gay footballers in Italy? We think so. They should do as Hitzlsperger and say publicly, “the organization wrote, saying that” it would take a positive message, especially among young people, and help to fight against homophobia. ”

In Germany, as in other countries, sports, and particularly football, is one of the last areas to reveal his homosexuality remains a perilous enterprise. In September 2012, a Bundesliga player had indeed breached by revealing he was gay youth magazine Fluter, but he remained anonymous. This testimony had moved opinion and reacted Angela Merkel. “Have no fear,” she had launched, inviting gay athletes no longer hide.

In July, the German football governing bodies have declared war on homophobia, committing publicly to respect gay players and encouraging clubs to promote their “coming out.” “The clear position of the DFB that every person who wants to make his coming out can count on our support, “stated Wolfgang Niersbach.

At the international level, the “coming out” Hitzlsperger takes a little more than a month after the British diver Tom Daley , bronze in the event of high-flying 2012 Olympic Games.

End of April 2013, the NBA player Jason Collins became the first athlete in a sport activity major team in the U.S. to reveal his homosexuality.

The Englishman Justin Fashanu was the first prominent footballer to take such a step in 1990. Attacked from all sides, excluded from training by his manager at Nottingham Forest, Brian Clough and charged with sexual assault in the United States in 1998 (the charges will be dropped for lack of evidence), the former international Hopes had suicide shortly after.

End of 2009, the most capped player in the history of Welsh rugby, Gareth Thomas, then in retirement, became the first professional rugby player to his “coming out”.

Among the great athletes who publicly announced their homosexuality are tennis players Martina Navratilova, Amelie Mauresmo, the Swedish skier Anja Paerson or the American diver Greg Louganis.