Football Manager 2018, an online football management simulation game, announces that its latest edition will allow players to come out of the closet.
The absence of openly gay professional footballers has never been more apparent after former Leeds United director David Haigh claims that there are at least 20 Premier League and Championship players in the closet.
In a bid to tackle homophobia within the sport, Football Manager 2018 will feature an option for players to be open about their sexuality.
The game’s Director, Miles Jacobson told the BBC that: “I find it weird that it’s still a problem in football so we decided to try and show people that coming out isn’t a big deal and can be a positive thing.
“I just think it’s crazy that in 2017 we are in a world where people can’t be themselves.”
This new edition will introduce fictional, computer-generated players (known to users as ‘newgens’) to replace those real-life players who retire within the game.
If one of your club’s ‘newgens’ comes out, you will be informed via a news item in your in-game inbox.
The news will lead to a boost in your fictional club’s revenue due to new attention from the LGBT+ community.
The game hopes to influence the football community by dealing positively with LGBT issues, and showing how it can be beneficial for all those involved.
Jacobson added that the addition of ‘newgens’ means they are “able to do things with these players that we can’t with real players, because they can’t sue us”.
Last week, former Premier League footballer Carl Hoefkens revealed that he knows of at least two gay professional players in the UK.
The 39-year-old also said that he played with a third gay player during his career in Belgium, saying that in all of the instances the men in question did not hide their sexuality from their teammates.
Earlier this year, semi-pro footballer Liam Davis became the first openly gay player to walk onto the pitch at the new Wembley Stadium, when he played for his club Cleethorpeks Town in the FA Vase final.
It came after FA boss Greg Clarke claimed that we’re still ‘decades away‘ from a professional footballer in the Premier League coming out as gay.
Football Manager 2018 will be released on 10 November.