'Male athletes don't feel safe coming out as gay'- USWNT star Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe USWNTGetty Images

United States women's national team star Megan Rapinoe has said her male counterparts don't feel safe coming out as gay.

Speaking about sexual identity in football, she said men "feel like they're going to get abuse from fans" if they reveal their true selves.

Rapinoe has been at the forefront of social justice issues, including gay rights, throughout her USWNT and club career.

What has been said?

"To everyone in the sporting culture, you have a responsibility to think about what you're saying and ensure that you're creating an environment that's welcoming and open," Rapinoe said on The HangOut.

"We get asked all the time - why aren't there more out male athletes in elite sport? It's because they don't feel safe. They feel like they're going to get abuse from fans, they're going to be kicked off teams, have slurs thrown at them, whatever it is.

"It's safer on the women's side - we have a lot of camaraderie between ourselves and people coming out, which makes it easier for everyone. But I would say from sporting directors to club owners, to fans and players, it's your responsibility also."

The bigger picture

Indeed, male players have said it would be difficult to be publicly identified as gay in a dressing room.

Earlier this year, Patrice Evra spoke of the issue from his own experiences around team-mates who had not come out as gay.

"When I was in England, they brought someone to talk to the team about homosexuality," Evra told Le Parisien.

"Some of my colleagues said: 'It is against my religion, if there is a homosexual in this locker room, let him leave the club' and other comments.

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"At that time, I said: 'Shut up'. I played with players who were gay. Face to face, they opened up with me because they are afraid to speak otherwise.

"There are at least two players per club who are gay - but in the world of football, if you say so, it's over."

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