Arsenal star Hector Bellerin said it’s “impossible” for a Premier League footballer to come out due to the “very nasty” culture around the sport.
Currently there are no LGBT Premier League footballers and Bellerin – who has been targeted with homophobic abuse – said the football culture is different than other sports and believes it’s a reason why none have come out.
He told The Times: “It is impossible that anybody could be openly gay in football.
“Some fans are not ready. When it happened in rugby with the Welsh player [Gareth Thomas], people respected the situation. The fans respected his decision.
“In football, the culture is different. It can be very personal, very nasty, particularly for players from with opposition team.”
Bellerin was targeted with homophobic abuse due to his long hair and love of fashion but he said he has learnt to “grow a thick skin”.
“People have called me ‘lesbian’ for growing my hair,” he added. “There are other kinds of homophobic insults.
“I have learnt to grow a thick skin, but it can affect you. Every now and again, you get a bit of self-doubt.
“Some of it can get very abusive. Most of the abuse is online, but you hear it in the stadium too.
“You act a little differently and you become a target. There is pressure to conform. This is very dangerous.
“In life, you should be allowed to express yourself. People are happier like this.
“When I played badly, the stick I got [was] crazy. The worst was a year and a half ago.
“A lot of people say nice things, but it is natural to focus on the bad.”
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