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Anton Hysen, a 20-year old soccer player in Sweden, has made a splash by coming out in an interview with Offside magazine. In so doing he becomes Europe’s only openly gay professional in Europe – a staggering statistic that bears testimony to the sad endurance of homophobia in the game.

Hysen plays for Utsiktens BK in the Swedish second division and is the son of Glenn Hysen, a former defender for Liverpool FC. He told Offside:

’I want to prove that there is no big deal if I’m a footballer and also gay. If I perform as a footballer, then I do not think it matters if I like men or women.’

He continued: ‘There will always be people who can’t tolerate gay people, just like there are people who can’t tolerate immigrants. A club might be interested in me and then the coach might change his mind if he finds out I’m gay, but that is his problem not mine.’

Talking about the lack of gay footballers throughout Europe, he added:

’ It’s totally sick when you think about it. It’s so f****d up, everything. Where the hell is everyone else?’

The last professional footballer to come out while still playing was Justin Fashanu, a majestically talented player mysteriously shunned by many of the clubs he played for. He came out in 1991, and took his own life seven years later.

Here’s hoping this brave move by Anton Hysen encourages more footballers to come out and bring about a change in attitudes.

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