French Footballer Olivier Giroud says it's near impossible come out as an openly gay player in the world of football.
Speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro, the athlete says that he thinks the sport is not ready for an openly gay player.
"When I saw the German Thomas Hitzlsperger come out in 2014, it was very emotional," he said. "That was when I said to myself it's impossible to display homosexuality in football."
To this date, we only have two openly gay professional football (soccer for our American readers) players who are actively playing. Minnesota United’s Collin Martin who came out earlier this year, and Sweden’s Anton Hysen.
That said, we have a small history of football players coming out after retirement or around the times of their deaths. This includes Hitzlsperger who came out a year into his retirement and famous British player Justin Fashanu who came out in 1990 and later committed suicide in 1998.
As Giroud sees it, the sport of football is too based on displays of hyper testosterone and toxic masculinity.
"In the dressing room, there is a lot of testosterone, teasing and communal showers," Giroud said. "It is delicate but that is how it is.
"I can understand the distress and the difficulty for guys to come out — it is a real challenge after working on yourself for years."
That said, there are advocates within the world of football who are looking to change that the atmosphere from within. This includes Giroud who was involved with multiple LGBTQ-inclusive campaigns while playing for former clubs Arsenal and Montepellier.
"I am ultra tolerant," Giroud said. "When I was at Montpellier, I was involved in the fight, notably doing the cover of Tetu."
"At Arsenal, when they asked me to wear the rainbow laces in support of the gay community, I did it. There is still a lot of work to do in the world of football on this subject, that's an understatement."
In addition, English clubs will be participating in a campaign later this month to raise awareness against homophobia by wearing rainbow colors on laces and captain's armbands. In addition, there have been several referees coming out as gay in the past few years.
While the sport may be very hostile towards LGBTQ players, a change is coming. It's just a matter of to what degree of size will the increments of change arrive as, and how soon until they arrive.