A gay Premier League footballer has anonymously opened up about being terrified of coming out because of the reaction it will receive.
He also shared that he has had psychological help over his anxiety as, according to him, the views of “some fans” will mean he will not be accepted because of his sexuality.
“It’s 2021 and I should be able to be free to tell everyone who I am,” the unnamed star tells The Sun. “But there are some fans on the terraces for whom it is still very much the 1980s.”
The athlete is “proud” of who he is but feels he will be “crucified” if he does come out publicly.
He added: “I want to be open with people because it’s who I am and I am proud. But the truth is I will be crucified.”
The footballer told The Sun he is anxious people will “guess” his sexuality which is impacting his mental health.
“When I play, I feel like the fans may guess and they are judging me,” he says.
“Am I coming across as camp? Can they tell from the clothes I wear off the pitch? It has had a terrible effect on me mentally. It’s terrifying.”
According to the newspaper, the player has spoken to Amal Fashanu, the niece of Justin Fashanu who committed suicide in 1998 after coming out in 1990.
Since her uncle’s passing, Fashanu has been involved in an award-winning documentary about her relative and even set up a charity for tackling homophobia and racism in sport.
She now advocates for providing professional footballers with the resources they require, such as mental health services and emotional support.
Fashanu has even acted as a bridge between players who are not yet openly out and last year introduced two Premier League stars to each other after they reportedly came out to family and friends.
“In 2021, when we have never been so woke as a society, it feels like it should be the perfect time for a top-level player to come out,” she explains to The Sun.
Fashanu adds: “But the reality is that homophobia, especially online, is more prevalent than ever. We need to protect these players.
“I am in constant dialogue with the FA about what can be done but, unfortunately, it’s an unprecedented situation so it’s hard to put in place measures for a situation that hasn’t yet occurred.”
There will be a gala held by Fashanu to raise awareness around homophobia and racism in sport in March 2022.
For more information on The Justin Fashanu Foundation, click here.