Sports

Gay British Soccer Players Afraid to Come Out

It's not their teammates they're afraid of. It's the fans.

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At least eight professional footballers have revealed to colleagues that they are gay, but have refused to go public because they fear a backlash from fans.

This latest evidence that British football remains a homophobic environment comes after Jason Collins, a high-profile American basketball star, became the first player from a US professional sports league to reveal that he was gay.

In Britain, no professional footballer has come out and continued his career since Justin Fashanu in 1990. He stopped playing in 1994, but hanged himself four years later, aged 37. Fashanu had said that he had not been prepared for the backlash that followed his disclosure, and that his football career suffered "heavy damage" as a consequence.

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