“It’s been a long time lying. Every day of my life I’ve been thinking about how and when to do it, but I feel like it’s time to say it: I’m gay. With these words Jake Daniels (Bisfam, England, 17) began the interview on Monday at Sky Sports, the UK’s most watched sports television. The young Blackpool striker became the first active professional footballer to come out as gay since 1990, when Justin Fashanu, also English, did the same in an interview with the sun. In a statement issued by Blackpool after the interview, Daniels added, “I’ve known I’ve been gay my whole life, but now I feel like I’m ready to go out and be myself. I don’t want to lie anymore, she’s suffering.”
After scoring 30 goals with the youth team this season, Daniels made his debut on May 7 for Blackpool’s first team, with whom he signed his first professional contract in February, at the age of 17. Three days after the premiere against Peterborough in the Championship – the English second tier – when he had not yet announced his sexuality, Daniels signed a sponsorship contract with Adidas.
Now, after a week he will never forget in sporting terms, the young England striker is firmly facing the most important announcement of his short career: “It’s a step into the unknown. I realize there will be a reaction to this and that it will be partly anti-gay, perhaps in some stadiums or on social networks .became an easy target.”
Among the tens of thousands of professional footballers who play under UEFA regulations, Daniels is the first to come out as gay in 32 years. Robin Serrano, expert journalist on LGTBI+ perspective and author We are not feeling well (Temas de hoy, 2020) believes that this gap is due to the ‘too masculine’ masculine character of the beautiful game. “Football is a world in which masculinity is emphasized to denote supremacy. It exudes masculinity on all four sides and is the quintessential fatherly work,” confirms EL PAÍS over the phone.
Unlike Fashanu, who advertised for fear of discovery, in the latter phase of his career, Daniels came out of the closet at the same time as his professional debut, something Serrano sees as a double value: “He showed a great deal of honesty. Make these declarations when the hero is already established by his talent and worth.In these cases it doesn’t bother us as a society but rather we see it as something acceptable, so to speak, because we already know the talent behind the person.But advertising it as Daniels, who Doing it at the starting point, is very revealing.”
Hours after the interview on Monday in Sky SportsGary Neville and Jaime Carragher, former players of Manchester United and Liverpool and his England team-mates, celebrated the importance of the news on the same network: “We’ve been in so many locker rooms and I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Jake. [Daniels]. It is a very important day for him, his family and the history of English football.”
Daniels’ case is not the first case of homosexuality in the major European leagues, but it is the first since 1990 to occur when the protagonist is still active. Olivier Royer, a French Ligue 1 footballer in the 1970s and 1980s and later a coach, publicly admitted he was gay in 2008, nearly two decades after his retirement. Thomas Hitzlsberger, a 52-times Germany international, announced his sexuality in 2014, a year after he hung up his boots.
The latest case to date was that of Josh Cavallo, the Australian footballer from Adelaide United, who came out of the closet in October last year.
For Robin Serrano, the football taboo is still too big to count on a wave of new cases after Daniels said: “We’re in a more open society than we were in 1990, when Fasano made the move, but the hate crumbs are still there. That this is news in 2022 goes against the reality we live in. Plus, it’s a very repetitive conversation, which shows that we’re stuck in certain aspects and the brutal taboos that masculinity in football continues to generate.
An example of this happened on the very Sabbath, when, according to France informationIdrissa Gueye, Senegalese footballer for Paris Saint-Germain, has refused to play for his team in Montpellier due to the rainbow color his team wears on the shirt numbers – a campaign that has extended to all teams in Ligue 1 today -. The Paris club did not summon him to the match on the pretext of “personal reasons”.
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