Sunday 05 December 2021

Being gay still an issue in football, Dutch FA chairman says

The chairman of the Dutch football association has told gay newspaper Gaykrant in an interview that some football clubs in the Netherlands recommend gay players keep quiet about their homosexuality.

Michael van Praag told the website that the acceptance of homosexuality within football is one of the hurdles which still have to be taken, although the KNVB is working hard to change this.

The KNVB is raising the issue in club workshops and boosting awareness, he said. ‘This is where it begins, but we have over 3,100 amateur clubs,’ he said. ‘You can’t reach them all at the same time.’

The Netherlands has 34 professional football clubs, ‘but what do they say?’ Van Praag said. ‘If we have a gay player in the top team and he comes out, he will be jeered by the fans. That is bad for his career and he will have the entire stadium against him. Because a stadium audience can be cruel, very cruel. So we, well some clubs, recommend him not to come out.’

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Nevertheless, much has changed in the past five years Van Praag said, adding that he is very enthusiastic about the progress clubs are making to support gay players.

The KNVB is also working to eradicate anti-gay chanting at matches, Van Praag said. At the recent friendly between the Netherlands and Germany, Oranje fans were clearly heard singing ‘all Germans are homos’.

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