Philipp Lahm, a German soccer team captain recognized for his efforts to fight homophobia in sports, advises players not to come out because he says the consequences could be devastating, including suicide.
Reuters reports on the statements from Lahm in his new autobiography, The Subtle Difference, released on Monday.
"I would not advise any gay professional footballer to come out," wrote the full-back and captain of Bayern Munich."I would fear that he could end up like Justin Fashanu who after he outed himself was driven into such a corner that he ended up committing suicide," he wrote.
Fashanu, the only soccer player to come out during his professional career, took his own life in 1998 after his revelations prompted derision from fans.
Despite his advice, Lahm said that the prospect of working alongside an openly gay player would not bother him personally. He received an award in 2008 from the Weimar Gay Triangle, a German LGBT rights organization, for his outspokenness against intolerance.
The comments echo a controversial opinion Lahm shared earlier this year when he told Bunte, a German celebrity magazine that an openly gay soccer player would be exposed to “abusive elements.” The German Football Federation has urged gay players to come out in an effort to fight homophobia in the sport.
In the new autobiography, Lahm, who is married to a woman, also denied rumors that he is in a gay relationship with a man in Cologne.
“This speculation doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I have nothing against homosexuals and I find that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality."