He says a group of high-profile stars needs to come out together
A former football referee says there are at least three gay players in every German team.
Babak Rafati, a German-Iranian well-known face in the German sports world, has said there are gay and bi male professionals who stay in the closet pretending to have girlfriends.
‘Yes, I know gay footballers and referees in the [German premier league] Bundesliga,’ Rafati said.
‘There are three to four players in every team.’
He said they feel they are made to ‘sit down’ with a woman and share affection.
‘Kiss here, kiss there,’ Rafati said.
‘But in reality, they don’t really fancy the lady.’
However, Rafati said there is hope for a top professional soccer player to come out and to continue playing.
It is only when the ‘big stars’ comes out first, an athlete everyone loves, works together with the German Football Association DFB to ‘make the first step’.
‘If two per club and three from the national team were to stand there, together during a press conference, then you’d make an impact,’ he said in the claims to Swiss newspaper Blick
In the wide-ranging interview, Rafati linked being gay and closeted with his own attempts to keep his own mental health struggles a secret. He previously attempted suicide in 2011.
‘As a referee, I could also not come out with my illness.’
On 8 January 2014 Thomas Hitzelsperger, a former footballer whose career included 52 caps for the national team, opened up about being gay.
He had officially ended his career in professional football five months earlier.
He is the highest-profile footballer to come out as gay in Germany.
Although there are a number of openly gay referees in German football – some of whom made headlines – they are mostly limited to regional leagues.