By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com January 04 2013 6:01 PM ET
English soccer star Matt Jarvis, who plays winger for West Ham United, appeared shirtless on the February cover of popular UK gay magazine Attitude, calling for acceptance for gay teammates.
"It's everyday life. It's not something that's going to be a shock," he said. "I'm sure there are many footballers who are gay, but when they decide to actually come out and say it, it is a different story. I'm sure it's one that they've thought about many times. But it's a hard thing for them to do."
Jarvis, who is married to a woman, told Attitude he believes his sport would be tolerant and accepting of an openly gay player.
"There'd be support everywhere within the football community," Jarvis insisted. "Whether it be players, fans or within the [Professional Footballers Association]. There would definitely be groups of people who would be supportive and help them through it."
Jarvis is the third straight-identified footballer to appear on the magazine's cover, after David Beckham graced the cover in 2002, followed by Freddie Ljungberg in 2006, according to The Guardian.
The Guardian also reports that black footballer Justin Fashanu came out in 1990, but suffered "Extended abuse after coming out," and committed suicide eight years later. Since then, Swedish lower-league footballer Anton Hysen is the only other player to openly identify as gay, according to the Guardian.