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July 15, 2011

Another Ajax player has agreed to allow us to share their photo as part of our campaign to end homophobia in football. Thank you Vurnon Anita!

As some of you may remember we did an article last month covering the Dutch magazine L’HOMO which featured many athletes in a discussion on homosexuality in sports.  That article can be found here. We now have a full translation of the interviews that current and ex- football players did for the magazine via one of our Dutch supporters.

  • Demy de Zeeuw (football player for AFC Ajax/ Netherlands NT): With every away game we have to hear ‘Jews are gay’ (Jews is a nickname for Ajax supporters). It’s to show their dislike for Ajax, and in football you do that by cursing with either cancer or gay. Ridiculous, of course, but I’m afraid it’s a hard thing to change. There are enough gays that don’t want to hold hands in public, because they’re afraid of aggression. As long as homosexuality is not completely accepted in society, it won’t happen in football either. I don’t know of any gay football players, but no doubt they’ll be out there. It must be hard to live a double life, but always being picked on in stadiums is hard as well. In showbiz there are a lot of succesful gays that aren’t queery. They aren’t all parading in their speedos through the canals of Amsterdam. When I’m walking on the street with my girlfriend, a lot of men check me out. I don’t know what to think of that, maybe it’s my fashion or the fact that I’m bald. In my close surroundings there are gay people. Fine. In Amsterdam it’s completely normal in shops or restaurants to be served by a gay. I don’t get that people would have a problem with that.
  • Kenneth Perez (ex- football player, now analyst): I wouldn’t have any problems with playing alongside a gay player. I think we should stop making such a big deal out of that. In women’s football homosexuality is normal and accepted. Professional football is a macho culture, but I think most players won’t care about it. I expect the weird reactions would come from the supporters. It happened when an ADO the Hague player was butt plugged by his gf, and that didn’t even involve homosexual actions. Shortly after the video leaked on the internet we played against them and it was raining dildos on the field. I’m sure it was meant to be funny, but I wouldn’t be comfortable if it was about me. Sometimes gay men tell me ‘It’s a shame you’re not into men’. It happens a lot that gay men are into straight guys. They want to experiment. I don’t have that urge. My hairdresser in Denmark has become a good friend, he’s gay and has introduced me to a whole new scene. All his friends are nice, well dressed and fun. I have two sons, if one of them would come home with a guy I would have no problem with that.
  • Ronald de Boer (ex- football player, 67 caps for Netherlands NT): I used to play in Scotland, for the Rangers. One day before an important clash against Celtic, my manager came up to me to have a private talk. A gossip paper would have a story on me. I got anxious: what did they know? Coach: ‘You’ve been spotted with a man, they’re gonna out you’. I was relieved. ‘Let them publish that’, I said, ‘No problem’. I myself am not gay curious, but I completely accept homosexuality. I have a lot of gay friends. I’ve become more comfortable with hugging men, in southern Europe that’s completely normal. I didn’t used to kiss my brother or my father, but now I do. I kind of like it. When I was playing in the Netherlands, there were two gay referees. No one treated them funny, they were respected, because they were good at their jobs. It’s weird how that is accepted, while homosexuality among players is still such a taboo. The most well known case of a player that’s supposed to be gay is Marc Overmars. I know him very well and I know he’s not. It’s annoying when people keep going on about it. I personally think you should just come out, but I also understand people who’d want to keep it quiet.
  • Evgeniy Levchenko (football player for Willem II): I’ve grown up in Ukraine; a macho culture where homosexuality was a big taboo. When you were into guys, you were supposed to deny it. Russian parents would rather disown their child when he was gay than when he was a murderer. I don’t get that in a free country such as the Netherlands, where I’ve been living since I was 17, homosexuality still isn’t fully accepted. No one has ever called me gay, maybe because I am more macho than I look. I have a lot of gay friends. I don’t think any player would mind playing alongside a gay player, if you’d ask them personally. But if you bring it up in a group, there will be nasty remarks. That’s group pressure. It makes me angry when I hear Italian trainers say that there are no gay men in football, that’s just not true. I know players that I suspect are into men. I guess they’re afraid of the reactions from the audience, but you’ll get used to the chants. So they’ll sing that you’re gay.. You are. It’s not that bad, right? At the same time, I understand the fear. The British player Fashanu has been the only player to come out. It eventually cost him his life; all the negative reactions were too much for him and he’s committed suicide.
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