Story By: Juan Mayes, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
Sampdoria star Albin Ekdal has said football has “an environment where homophobia is rife” and homosexual players “feel forced to flee, to hide and to live in fear” of “negative reactions”.
Former Juventus midfielder Ekdal, 30, made the comments during an event organised by the European Parliament in an effort to fight discrimination against people for their sexual orientation in sports and in society.
Ekdal, who is married with a child, participated in the event by submitting a video in which he was seen speaking out against homophobia and encouraging fans to use “education as a force for good”.
The Swedish international said: “In an ideal world, nobody would feel ill-at-ease coming out as a homosexual, whether it is in your everyday life or in football.
“Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat different. In our sport, only eight players have come out as homosexuals, an extremely small number. Many would like to but they do not feel free to do so, fearful of negative reactions.
“It is an environment where homophobia is rife and these players are afraid of becoming a target for insults or vilification both on and off the pitch.
“As a result, they feel forced to flee, to hide and to live in fear. That is why we need to fight back on this issue harnessing education as a force for good.”
Going on to say that every time a footballer hangs up their boots for not being accepted over their sexual orientation it “is a defeat for the world of football”.
Ekdal finished his statement saying: “Being homosexual does not define you as a person, only who you are attracted to.
“Each and every one of us are part of the human race and we have a shared passion: we love football and that’s the most important thing for all of us.”
Ekdal was signed by Sampdoria in August of 2018 for a reported 2.34 million GBP after his former club Hamburger SV was relegated to the German second-tier.
Sampdoria are 16th in Serie A and are set to play 12th-place Torino on Saturday 8th February.
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