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John Amaechi discourages athletes from coming out


Retired NBA player John Amaechi recently told London's Telegraph that he would discourage young athletes from coming out.0

"The fact is, you're more likely to be hit by a meteor than to make it as a Premier League footballer," Amaechi said. "So why add another reason why you might not make it?"

The statement was in response to a lack of support by players when the Football Association announced it was premiering a short film intended to launch the organization's new antihomophobia initiative.

When no prominent players were prepared to support the initiative, the association announced it would postpone the premiere of the film.

Amaechi, an American-born basketball player, now living in the United Kingdom, who played for the Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic, said he has spoken to about 12 British footballers who are gay.

"As it happens, none of them have asked me if they should come out," Amaechi said. "But if they did, I would tell them not to. I'm not a gay right[s] activist."

Amaechi said if the public recognized there are are many gay players, the situation would be different.

"I think the mistake we make is that we're looking at the footballers as if they are the problem," Amaechi said. "The FA framed the argument that because no gay footballer is brave enough to come out, homophobia will continue to exist. But it's not the job of the minority to make the environment safer."

Amaechi wrote a book, Man in the Middle, about playing in the NBA, and appeared on the cover of The Advocate in 2007. He has since appeared at several gay rights events and was a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project.

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