Damiano Tommasi, the president of the Italian Players Union, says gay footballers should keep their sexual orientation to themselves.
Speaking to journalist Klaus Davi, Tommasi, a former Italian international player, said the presence of openly gay athletes in the locker room would cause "embarrassment" and that players self-identifying as gay should be "discouraged."
"Homosexuality is still a taboo in football in the sense that there is a different kind of cohabitation to other professions," he said. "Expressing your personal sexuality is difficult in every professional environment and even more so for a footballer who shares a changing room with his teammates, and hence also his intimacy with others."
While it's difficult to discern a precise context from quotes that appear to have been translated from Italian, some of the comments attributed to Tommasi, a former midfielder for AS Roma, seem to come from a place of concern. "For those who have such tendencies and difficulty in expressing themselves, the first step would be coming out," he's quoted as saying, "but there is the risk that something intimate would then become uncontrolled public discussion."
"In our environment anything that comes out that isn't on the straight and narrow becomes a boomerang."