An anonymous star currently playing in the English Premier League (EPL) has penned an open letter revealing that he is gay. However, the more troubling part of the letter is the one where he says he is not coming out because he is unsure how his teammates will react.
"I am gay. Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me. But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don't feel ready to share it with my team or my manager," the letter from the unknown footballer reads.
He goes on to reveal his plight: "How does it feel having to live like this? Day-to-day, it can be an absolute nightmare. And it is affecting my mental health more and more. I feel trapped and my fear is disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse."
While successive governments in the United Kingdom, both Labour and Conservative, have appeared friendly towards homosexuals and have enacted laws in their favour, this letter suggests that the culture in the football world is different.
Tragic death of Fashanu
Way back in 1998, a footballer named Justin Fashanu who represented Notts County and West Ham in the league, and was the first footballer to reveal that he was gay, completed suicide. What pushed him to do this were allegations of sexual assault.
The Justin Fashanu Foundation, managed by the niece of the late footballer, is providing support to this anonymous footballer. The letter he has written had been given to The Sun newspaper and published by them.
This letter raises questions about the culture in the football world of England. Since Fashanu's death, only two players came out of the closet and both did so only after hanging their boots. These were Leeds United's Robbie Rogers and Thomas Hitlzberger who played for West Ham and Everton.
However, some people believe that there are many players of homosexual orientation in the Premier League but don't want to be plagued by the attention they would get it they were to reveal their sexuality. The most prominent among those with such views is Watford captain Troy Deeney.
He had made the shocking statement in an interview that there could be one gay or bisexual player in every team of the Premier League. However, that claim is still in the realm of conjecture. But this open letter suggests that there may be genuine difficulties faced by a player if he chooses to make his homosexuality public.