The manager of one of world's most prominent soccer clubs, in a recent interview, expressed his support for gay soccer players. Arsène Wenger, managing Arsenal London for the past 18 years stated that he would welcome an openly gay player onto his team roster. In fact, Wenger hopes for a time in which players coming out stop making news, and is instead considered acceptable and commonplace.
“I think football is there to provoke moments of happiness, excitement and positive experiences in people, no matter where they come from, what color skin they have, what religion they are or what their preferred sexuality is,” Wenger told Arsenal's website. “It’s very sad that some people think that this sport should only be reserved for those who have certain characteristics. It’s open to everybody who loves football and when that doesn’t happen, it’s not acceptable.”
Wagner also stated that it is “completely unrealistic” to think there are no gay soccer players. The insecurity players experience when coming out signifies the progress the sport still has ahead. The manager of one of the biggest soccer clubs also commented on Thomas Hitzlsperger who came out earlier this year. Responding to Hitzlsperger's decision to come out, Wenger said:
I found it brave and I think that normally you should not have had to speak about that. It would be good if four, five, six people come out and after that nobody speaks about it anymore because they just think it is people who live their life like they want to live it. He could not come out during his career, which means we still have some progress to make in our game because he should not have had to wait until the end. But overall he should not have to come out at all because it should just be considered like anything else.
Arsenal is undeniably one of the most successful soccer clubs in England. Over the years, the team has won 13 First Division and Premier League titles and a joint record 11 FA Cups. The manager's support towards LGBT players is a critical step towards equality on the pitch. As the 2014 World Cup is quickly approaching, such statement gives the momentum to help eliminate homophobia from sports around the world.
Make sure to check out YouTube's newest LGBT Pride campaign. As part of the campaign, YouTube's logo, seen by tens of millions of people every day, features a rainbow soccer ball and leads visitors to the #ProudToPlay channel, which showcases videos of LGBT athletes and allies speaking out in support of equality on the field.
"As athletes from across nations and leagues come out, sports fans throughout the world are embracing LGBT players and ejecting bias from the game," said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "GLAAD is thrilled to support Google and YouTube in this landmark initiative to help tackle stereotypes and build understanding."