“We say to all who struggle with the decision of coming out: we will support and encourage you”
In an act of solidarity, 800 German footballers have pledged their support for LGBTQ+ players.
In a new report from German football magazine 11Freunde, players through the German professional football leagues have come together to end LGBTQ+ discrimination.
“It’s now 2021 – and still there is not a single openly gay football professional in the men’s game in Germany.
“Nobody should be cajoled into coming out. It’s a free and individual choice. But it’s our aim that everybody who decides to take this step can be certain of our fill support,” reads the joint statement.
The publication also tweeted the cover for the incredible feature that showcases players holding a sign that states “Ihr könnt auf uns zählen!” which translates to “You can count on us!”.
— 11Freunde (@11Freunde_Red) February 17, 2021
Bobby Wood, an international player from the US has signed the appeal along with Bundesliga clubs Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim, Schalke, Werder Bremen and Freiburg.
Max Kruse, Jonas Hector, Niklas Stark, Alexandra Popp and Almuht Schult have also signed the appeal and showcased their solidarity.
“We say to all who struggle with the decision of coming out: we will support and encourage you, and if necessary, fight against any hostilities you may face. Because you are doing what is right and we are on your side,” the appeal continued.
The 11 Freunde editor in chief Philipp Koster opened up about the empowering piece to ESPN, stating: “There were clubs like Union Berlin who were really supportive of this. And there were others where teams had to position themselves at first.
He continued: “Some clubs said they would not be part of it and they stated their reasons.”
Since going live the appeal has been met with praise from fans and players alike.
Former German International player Thomas Hitzlsperger tweeted his support for the campaign stating: “Another step in the right direction — well played, 11Freunde”
— Thomas Hitzlsperger (@ThomasHitz) February 17, 2021
Hitzlsperger publically came out in 2014, shortly after retiring from professional football.
Philipp Bommer, who is a member of Bundesliga’s first gay fan club, told ESPN that this is an “important signal for both fans and society”.
“Symbolism is important, but it’s even more important that those players protect their teammates and opponents should there be a coming out and when there are hostilities in or outside the stadium,” Bommer stated.
We are living for this LGBTQ+ support.