Olivier Giroud believes that it is “impossible to be openly homosexual in football” and that the idea that the sport is a long way from accepting openly gay players is an “understatement.”
Speaking with Le Figaro in French, the 32-year-old recalled the “emotional” time when former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger came out back in early 2014 — still the highest-profile former footballer to date. The Chelsea forward also pointed to his various gestures with former clubs Arsenal and Montpellier in support of the gay community.
“When I saw Thomas Hitzlsperger come out back in 2014 [post-retirement], it was very emotional,” he said. “It was at this time that I thought that it is impossible to be openly homosexual in football.”
“In the dressing room, there is a lot of testosterone, teasing and collective showers. It is delicate but that is how it is. I can understand the pain and the difficulty for guys in coming out — it is a real challenge and it takes years of work on yourself.
“When I joined Montpellier, I got involved in the fight for tolerance and was on the cover of [French gay magazine] Tetu. At Arsenal, when asked, I wore rainbow laces in support of the gay community.”
Premier League and EFL clubs will again show their support for Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign at the end of this month, with players wearing the laces and clubs using rainbow colours on corner flags and captain’s armbands. Premier League clubs will do so for two rounds of games from Nov. 30, while EFL clubs will select a game between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1.
“To say that there is still a lot of work to be done in the football world on this topic is an understatement. It’s the least one could say,” Giroud said.