UK Premier League Soccer Player Terrified to Come Out, Seeks Therapy

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday October 18, 2021

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Stock image  (Source:Getty Images)

An unidentified gay Premier League soccer player in the UK has spoken with an LGBTQ+ advocate and revealed that he is so afraid of being attacked by fans that he's staying in the closet. He's also seeking therapy for his fear, UK newspaper The Mirror reported.

"The top-flight star said his situation is 'terrifying' and that he 'will be crucified' if he comes out as homosexual," the newspaper account said.

The player had been in touch with Amal Fashanu, founder of the Justin Fashanu Foundation, who advocates for LGBTQ+ equality. Fashanu is the niece of another top soccer star, Justin Fashanu, who "came out in 1990 and took his own life eight years later following his retirement. Since then, there has not been an active player from England's top tier to follow in Fashanu's footsteps by publicly revealing that they are gay," the Mirror recounted.

The unidentified soccer star gave an interview to UK newspaper The Sun to talk about his plight, saying that it's "2021 and I should be able to tell everybody who I am," but is deeply conflicted because, he says, "there are some fans...for whom it is still very much the 1980s."

"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 player admitted in the interview with The Sun. "When I play, I feel like the fans may guess and they are judging me."

"Am I coming across as camp?" the player continued. "Can they tell from the clothes I wear off the pitch? It has had a terrible effect on me mentally. It's terrifying."

The unnamed player isn't the only one whose fears have caused him to stay in the closet unwillingly. "Last year, it was reported that two players who ply their trade in the top flight had come out to their family and close friends, with one telling The Sun that they were 'too scared' to make their sexuality public," the Mirror noted.

The Justin Fashanu Foundation is in contact with at least seven players who feel the same way: Unhappy in the closet, but too frightened to come out, newspaper accounts said.

In speaking with the press about the player who's had to seek out therapy to deal with his fears, Fashanu said, "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," another UK newspaper, the Daily Star, reported.

"But the reality is that homophobia, especially online, is more prevalent than ever. We need to protect these players."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.