The Clarets manager says his dressing room would support any soccer professional who chose to come out as gay
Burnley boss Sean Dyche says a soccer professional’s sexuality has no bearing on their ability or selection but understands why footballers choose not to come out as gay.
To date, there has not been an openly gay man in top-level British football, despite efforts to encourage LGBT equality and inclusivity in the game.
Former Aston Villa, West Ham and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has come out as gay but he did so only after his retirement in 2014.
When asked how he would react if a soccer professional told him he was gay, Dyche insists he nor anyone else in the Burnley dressing room would have a problem with it.
“Does being gay mean you can’t be a good footballer? No. So let’s crack on,” he told the Guardian.
In recent years the Premier League and Football League have backed the Rainbow Laces campaign, organised by LGBT rights charity Stonewall.
Players wore rainbow laces in their boots and captains wore rainbow armbands as a visible show of support for the LGBT community, attempting to promote equality and diversity as well as eradicate homophobia on the terraces.
Despite the great strides made in recent years gay players at the top of the British game have continued to keep their sexuality secret.
There have been rumours in recent weeks that a soccer professional may come put publicly, but Dyche understands if they choose not to do so given the publicity it would generate, despite the support they may receive from their club.
“Have you ever thought they might not want you to have any idea? This thing about ‘the next gay footballer’. Imagine the noise around that,” added Dyche, who has been in charge of Burnley since 2012. “They might not want it. You could not contain that information. All I am saying has been that in my changing room, there would be no problem.”
Elsewhere, former US national team and Leeds United soccer professional Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league when he played his first match for the LA Galaxy in 2013.
In May, former Newcastle Jets striker Andy Brennan became the first professional male footballer in Australia to reveal he has been gay.