Troy Deeney believes every football team has one gay or bisexual player.
The British footballer, who is currently the striker and captain of Premier League club Watford, spoke about the lack of openly queer players in the sport for the BBC Podcast, Grounded with Louis Theroux.
“I would go on record saying that there is probably one gay or bi person in every football team,” he admitted.
“They’re there, they are 100% there. I think people that are gay or from that community definitely are very worried about having to shoulder the responsibility of being the first. I think once the first comes out, there would be loads.
“If they came out and said it, I genuinely believe you would get, in the first week, at least 100 people that went ‘me too.'”
Deeney believes that none of the closeted players would want to be first to publicly come out because they would be the “face of it”. However, he thinks “there is now a bigger platform than ever to be a gay athlete of any nature.”
“I also wonder why people finish football, rugby, whatever the sport it might be, and then go ‘I am gay’. I feel like it must be a real heavy load to carry throughout all your whole sporting career,” he added.
“When it happened in rugby with the Welsh player [Gareth Thomas], people respected the situation,” explained Ballerín. “The fans respected his decision. In football, the culture is different. It can be very personal, very nasty.”
Giroud said: “In the dressing room, there is a lot of testosterone, teasing and collective showers. It is delicate but that is how it is. I can understand the pain and the difficulty for guys in coming out – it is a real challenge.”
But like Deeney, some are challenging that view. England’s first ever openly gay referee, Ryan Atkin, opined: “But we are also in a place now where if an individual chose to come out, he would probably get the biggest amount of support.
“Not only from fans, but from the media, and from football itself.”