No gold at the end of the rainbow. Belgian Meunier says ‘coming out’ is still an issue for gay players

June 25 – Belgian international Thomas Meunier has said football is not ready for openly gay players, arguing that the sport’s mentality is not developed enough for a player to comfortably come out.

“We are in the 21st century,” said Meunier at a news conference. “It’s time to accept everyone as they are. There are certain people who put up ‘No to racism’ signs, but we need to do more than that. We have to make a difference.”

His comments came after European governing body UEFA blocked the Allianz Arena from lighting up in rainbow colours ahead of Germany’s Group F clash with Hungary to protest an anti-gay law passed by Viktor Orban and his government. Fans wove rainbow flags during the match as UEFA faced condemnation in many quarters.

“That’s important to me, everyone can have their own opinion,” said Meunier. “It is a pity, but in football a ‘coming out’ is not so obvious. I wouldn’t recommend it if a teammate wanted to do it. Not that I’ve experienced it yet, because I’ve never met a gay player in the football world. You sometimes see a ‘coming out’ after a career, not during a career like in American Football. The mentality in football is not yet as it should be.”

The Dortmund player was speaking with a rainbow armband next to him. At a previous press conference, the Belgians had a rainbow coffee cup standing on the lectern. In March, the Belgium national team also added its voice to protests calling for change in Qatar and action against racism.

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