Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis says he is”absolutely convinced” there will be openly gay footballers in the near future.
Previous reports had it that Former Everton and West Ham midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger revealed he was gay after retiring, but no prominent English player has come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990. Fashanu was widely abused after the revelation, but considerable progress has been in the time since, most recently with Stonewall’s rainbow laces campaign.
And Gazidis, speaking at LGBT forum Pride and Prejudice, said he. was “absolutely convinced that in five years time we will have openly gay players”.
He added: “Sport’s such an interesting space. It’s a tremendously competitive environment, and if you close your self off to any section of society, you’re not being competitive. “We as a club have a responsibility to make a public statement about what our values are.”
Gazidis explained the reason he was so sure was because a player coming out would be a “non-issue” in the dressing room.
“In the dressing room, it’s a non-issue. [The players are] openly supportive of these issues, so you have to wonder why someone hasn’t come out.”