A man claiming to be a gay Premier League footballer has published an open letter in a UK newspaper through the Justin Fashanu Foundation, founded in 2019 by Fashanu’s niece Amal. Fashanu was the worlds first openly gay professional footballer. He took his own life in 1998 amid sexual assault allegations.
You’d be forgiven for being skeptical and thinking this all sounds a bit familiar. Last year, this same month, another alleged gay footballer, sparked interest with an anonymous account on Twitter, after which a coming out failed to materialize.
“As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a footballer. I wasn’t interested in doing well at school. Instead of doing homework, every spare minute I had was spent with a ball. In the end it paid off. But even now I still have to pinch myself when I run out and get to play each week in front of tens of thousands of people. However, there is something that sets me apart from most other players in the Premier League. I’m gay.”
“Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me,” the alleged player added in the letter, published by The Mirror. “But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don’t feel ready to share it with my team or my manager. That’s hard. I spend most of my life with these guys and when we step out on the pitch we are a team. But still, something inside me makes it impossible for me to be open with them about how I feel. I dearly hope one day soon I will be able to.”
The player continued: “How does it feel having to live like this? Day-to-day, it can be an absolute nightmare. And it is affecting my mental health more and more. I feel trapped and my fear is that disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse. So, although my heart often tells me I need to do it my head always says the same thing: ‘Why risk it all?’ I am at an age where I would love to be in a relationship. But because of the job I do the level of trust in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high. So, at the moment, I avoid relationships. I dearly hope I will soon meet someone who I think I will be able to trust enough.”
“It was great last month to see Thomas Beattie raise his hand and admit to being gay,” the player added. ” But the fact he had to wait until retirement tells you all you need to know. Footballers are still too scared to make the step while they are playing.”
The player concluded: “The truth is I just don’t think football is ready yet for a player to come out. The game would need to make radical changes in order for me to feel able to make that step. What those running the game need to do is educate fans, players, managers, agents, club owners – basically everyone involved in the game. If I was to make that step I’d want to know that I would be supported at each step of my journey. Right now, I don’t feel I would be.”