English soccer player Jake Daniels stated he is gay on Monday in a groundbreaking moment for the European men’s game. Daniels, 17, forward made the statement at the end of his first season as a professional player with second division club Blackpool.
“This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch,” he stated in a statement. “But off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I really am. I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself.”
“It’s a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality.”
Whilst women’s soccer shows many well-known LGBTQ players, the men’s professional sport deficits players who are publicly gay and has seemed to have even aggressive attitudes in locker rooms.
At the weekend, PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye was omitted of the game day squad for a match at Montpellier amidst reports he denied to wear a team jersey with a rainbow-colored number.
It was part of a French league-wide campaign opposing homophobia and the Senegal international has a powerful Muslim faith. PSG has not refused the reports or made an official comment.
Daniels stated he was influenced by Josh Cavallo of Australian team Adelaide United, who the only openly gay man is currently playing in a top division in world soccer after the midfielder’s statement in October.
“I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in,” Daniels stated. “I want to be a role model myself by doing this. There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality.”
“I just want to tell them that you don’t have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in. You being you, and being happy, is what matters most.”
Daniels stated teammates at Blackpool accepted his sexuality following confiding in them. The northwest English club stated it was “incredibly proud that he has reached a stage where he is empowered to express himself both on and off the pitch.”
The English Football Association stated Daniels was an “inspiration” to the sport.
“This is a hugely positive step as we strive to build an inclusive game that we can all be proud of,” the governing body cited on Twiter. “We are with you and we hope your story will help to give people across the game the strength and encouragement to be their true self.”
The only openly gay man to have played in English soccer’s professional leagues was Justin Fashanu, who was not participative at a high level when he made the statement in 1990. The former Nottingham Forest and Norwich City striker was found hanged in a London garage at age 37.
The Justin Fashanu Foundation calls him the “world’s first openly gay professional footballer.”
Soccer in England is still handing trying to remove homophobic chants at some games.
“If, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant,” Daniels notified broadcaster. “If they think this kid is brave enough do this, I will be able to do it too. I hate knowing people are in the same situation I was in.”
“I think if a Premier League footballer does come out that would just be amazing. I feel like I would have done my job and inspired someone else to do that. I just want it to go up from here. We shouldn’t be where we are right now.”
It is a rarity in team sports for men to reveal they are LBTQ .
Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas was the first active rugby professional to emerge in 2009, 2 years ahead of he retired, and has become a source of inspiration across sports.