I would say it has to do with the financial side of it. There is no other comparable sport – maybe some of the American ones – with that sort of investment and financial value. While this is not the only reason, I think it’s one of the most important ones; it makes it harder for people because there’s so much at stake. They’re afraid to lose their sponsors and to not be able to participate in the World Cup in Qatar or Russia (which are homophobic countries). Although I don’t think this is the sole reason, it’s definitely the catalyst.
However, we still see it in other sports. It’s a field that has so much to do with machismo and masculinity – even though, for example, I find football super homoerotic, ironically. I found it amazing that there’s this rugby player, the ex-captain of Wales, Gareth Thomas, who came out even though rugby is seen as the ultimate man’s sport. That was so beautiful. But that’s never happened in football. Now, in rugby, it happens more and more. This goes to show that if one big guy does it, others can as well.
For example, when it comes to football, our German national coach, Joachim Löw, said – on whether we should encourage people to come out or not – he would not encourage anyone to come out, not because he doesn’t want them to but because the media would rip them apart. Imagine that a big player comes out… he’s not going to live in peace for the next fifteen years! So he would encourage a group of players to come out together, otherwise, there’s no way out.
Also, what I don’t understand is that there’s an anti-racism initiative from UEFA, which is at least a sign of good will – although it doesn’t really do much in the end –, but there’s not one for homophobia. For instance, big German players, who have the reputation of not being hurt by anything, could stand together against it because you don’t have to be gay to be an ally to the cause. That would be a huge sign, but they’re all so afraid to do so.