Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Hitzelperger shows difficulty of fight against homophobia in football

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

With Graham Luney

Published 11/01/2014

Retired German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has told German news outlet Zeit Online he is gay
Retired German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has told German news outlet Zeit Online he is gay

The transfer window is open and nothing much is happening, but that doesn't stop the frenzied speculation.

However, one of the biggest stories of the week was not a big money move.

It was all about one retired player coming out as homosexual.

Since Thomas Hitzlsperger made his announcement, many have been queuing up to praise his courage.

The former Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton player is only the fourth professional footballer to come out as gay after Justin Fashanu, America's Robbie Rogers and Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen.

Arsenal and Germany forward Lukas Podolski has gone public in his support for his former international colleague, saying that his outing is an "important sign of our time."

In this situation, timing is everything.

It's a real shame that Hitzlsperger had to announce it after he ended his playing career.

So respect to him for his honesty now, but the reality is that Hitzlsperger, who retired in September, did not feel brave enough to reveal this information when he was still playing.

We are still waiting for a Premier League player to 'come out' but it could be a long wait.

Players will still get verbal abuse in hostile environments.

Wayne Rooney is constantly reminded of his dalliances with prostitutes 10 years ago.

The fight to erase homophobia in football is proving a tough one to win.

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