Pictures of German soccer stars from the 11Freunde campaign

In a welcome demonstration of support, over 800 professional soccer players in Germany supported a campaign for LGBTQ players.

The German magazine 11Freunde (11 Freunde) started the campaign with pictures of several Bundesliga stars who were holding signs saying “You can listen to us!”. (You can count on us! “)

“Even in 2021 there will not be a single openly homosexual footballer in the German men’s professional leagues,” said the players in a joint statement. “The fear of being attacked and ostracized after leaving and of endangering a career as a professional footballer is apparently still so great that gay footballers believe they have to hide their sexuality.”

They continued, “Nobody should be forced to come out. That is the free decision of each individual. However, we want everyone who chooses to be sure of our full support and solidarity. “

The players said that it is a fundamental right for someone to express their sexuality freely and “therefore we say to all who are struggling with this decision: We will support and encourage you and, if necessary, defend you against hostility. Because you’re doing the right thing and we’re on your side. “

Union Berlin star Max Kruse wrote: “All people are the same, regardless of skin color, religion or sexual orientation.”

“If any of my coworkers came out I would protect them from the idiots outside of our team who feel disturbed or genuinely threatened by homosexuality,” he continued.

The campaign received a seal of approval from Thomas Hitzlsperger, a retired German soccer player who came out gay in 2014. He tweeted: “Another step in the right direction – well played, 11 friends.”

However, the 11Freunde campaign kicked off after former German soccer captain Philipp Lahm warned gay players not to come out while they were still active in the sport.

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