The majority of soccer fans worldwide would support a player coming out as gay, according to a poll reported last week by U.K. paper The Guardian. The poll was conducted by the gay British lobbying and campaigning group Stonewall and the Swedish developer Football Addicts. Ireland polled the largest percentage of supporters at 83 percent, while the United States had only a 52 percent support rate of gay players, a relatively low number as compared to the rest of the Western world.
Last week, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger spoke about homophobia in professional soccer, something he saw firsthand during a match against Bayern Munich, when fans unrolled an antigay banner during a match between the two clubs.
“The mentality of some extreme people around the game can be toxic and the job of those who have responsibility for our game is to fight against that,” Wenger said on Arsenal.com. “I am one of them and I hope I will always be strong enough to fight against any people who are extremists.”
Nevertheless, notes Outsports, no openly gay player has ever competed in the World Cup tournament. Germany's Thomas Hitzlsperger was not out when he played in the 2006 World Cup, and Robbie Rogers was on the American team in 2010 but did not participate in the tournament, nor was he out at the time.
The World Cup begins June 12 with the inaugural Group A match between Brazil and Croatia.