A historic “coming out” for English football.
Jake Daniels, a 17-year-old midfielder who plays with club Blackpool, in the English 2nd division, became the first active British professional player to publicly claim his homosexuality on Monday, in a press release.
A message from Jake Daniels.
— Blackpool FC (@BlackpoolFC) May 16, 2022
“This season has been fantastic for me on the pitch.
I made my first pro match, scored 30 goals with the reserve, signed my first pro contract, ”said the player on his club's website.
“But off the pitch, I hid who I really am.
I have known all my life that I was gay and I feel that I am now ready to come out and be myself,” he continued.
Football, an environment tinged with homophobia
In the 1990s, Justin Fashanu was the first openly gay English professional player, but he was playing at amateur level when he gave his explosive interview to the tabloid The Sun.
Victim of insults and homophobic behavior following his coming out, the former Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker committed suicide eight years later.
"Being gay, bi or queer is still a taboo in men's football," said the young player in an interview with Sky Sport.
Read alsoFight against homophobia: Galtier, Rami and Bernardoni mobilize in an LFP spot
"I think it's because a lot of footballers want to be recognized for their manliness.
And people see being gay as a weakness, something you can be provoked with on the pitch,” he continued.
"Let them shout what they want"
“But as I see it, I play football and (the spectators) can yell things at me, but they pay to see me play and I earn my living that way.
So that they shout what they want, it will change absolutely nothing, ”retorted the young man again.
Daniels' announcement was met with an outpouring of messages of sympathy from across English football.
“You are an inspiration to us all, Jake,” for example, wrote the Leicester club on its Twitter account.
You're an inspiration to us all, Jake 💙 https://t.co/iXvlIeYIqJ
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 16, 2022
"Football is a sport for all, with diversity at its core, and this is a huge step in the right direction as we try to create a truly inclusive sport that we will all be proud of," added the FA. .