Italian Players Union president Damiano Tommasi, a former Italian international, has said he would advise homosexual footballers against openly admitting their sexuality.
Speaking on a well known Italian programme that discussed football, politics and homosexuality, Tommasi said coming out could lead to embarrassment and awkwardness.
“It’s to be discouraged. The fact of being identified or singled out as ‘the one who is’, regardless of your profession, whether journalist, footballer or politician, I don’t think it would be an advisable path to take.
“Homosexuality is still a taboo in football in the sense that there is a different kind of cohabitation to other professions.
“Expressing your personal sexuality is difficult in every professional environment and even more so for a footballer who shares a changing room with his team-mates, and hence also his intimacy with others.
“In our world it could cause embarrassment. In a sport in which you get undressed it could cause an extra difficulty in cohabitation.
“In other professions such as journalists or bank employeees, this doesn’t happen.
“For them it’s easier to express themselves. But from a personal point of view, I think you can live without showing your own tendencies or you can do so in a discreet manner.
“I don’t think it helps people to come out by identifying a journalist, politician or public figure as ‘the one who is’.
“For those who have such tendencies and difficulty in expressing themselves, the first step would be coming out.
“But there is the risk that something intimate would then become uncontrolled public discussion.”
Tommasi, who notably played for Roma and won 25 Italy caps during his career, said he had never met a gay footballer but denied that players are afraid of coming out.
“I don’t think that people don’t come out in football due to fear but rather that they don’t do so for personal reasons,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any need to express your sexual preferences in order to work or live in a civil manner with absolute tranquility.
“In our environment anything that comes out that isn’t on the straight and narrow becomes a boomerang.
“I personally never met any gay footballers but then again maybe I did without knowing theirhomosexual tendencies.”