A debate in the British government about homophobia in sport heard claims that there are gay players in the Premier League who are concerned about coming out.
Speaking in the House of Commons in a select committee meeting discussing homophobia in sport on Tuesday, former NBA player John Amaechi claimed that he knows multiple Premier League players who are gay.
The former Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic forward came out as gay in 2007 and was speaking in Westminster alongside Team GB Olympic athlete Tom Bosworth and England women’s national team and NWSL player Lianne Sanderson who are also gay.
Amaechi spoke about the issues athletes are facing about coming out publicly and revealed he has spoken to Premier League players who are not comfortable with revealing their sexuality.
“Some of them are Premier League football players. For them there are multiple issues,” Amaechi said. “Some of them feel that their teams specifically will not be supportive. Their team infrastructure, not their teammates, but the coaches, the club and administration around them. They either know them to be overly hostile by having stood in or overheard conversations with them that were conscionable, or they suspect it. It is interesting how many of the people I know are ‘out’ to a greater or less extent to their family, friends and a selection of their teammates.”
Bosworth also confirmed that he knew Premier League players who were gay and Amaechi went on to attack the English Football Association for a lack of willpower to help change the attitude in English soccer towards homosexuality.
“Fundamentally, it’s about will,” Amaechi added. “These people have access to all the resources they need. They could do it now. They just don’t have the will to do it.”
When USMNT and LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers came out as gay in 2013, he left English side Leeds United and initially retired as he spoke about the need to be in a more accepting society.
Former Premier League and German national team player Thomas Hitzlsperger has also come out in recent years but only after retiring and the only active player to come out as gay in England was Justin Fashanu back in 1990.