MICHAEL Laudrup has called for football to modernise its attitude towards homosexuality after suggesting fears of fan abuse could be preventing players from coming out.
The debate over the lack of openly gay footballers in the professional game was reopened this week after former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger publicly revealed his homosexuality.
Ex-Germany international Hitzlesperger, who also played for West Ham and Everton, made the announcement in an interview with a German newspaper, he is the most high profile footballer to do so.
Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas is another professional sportsmen to have come out, but further examples of footballers are rare.
In 1990, former England Under-21 international Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to reveal he was gay.
He took his own life eight years later, aged 37.
Last year, former United States and Leeds United winger Robbie Rogers said he was gay while Swedish footballer Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, declared his homosexuality in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.
“We are living in 2014. We are not in the 1930s or 1940s,” said Laudrup.
“But there is a special language in the world of football, a language inside the dressing room and in the stadiums and all that.
“I imagine that in the rest of the world there is no problem saying you are gay.
“But I think a lot of players who are homosexuals wouldn’t dare to say it because they know when they do play away what they will have to listen to from the crowd.
“That’s the reason, but we live in 2014. We are used to everything now and you can’t really be surprised.
“Everybody can be how they are, whether it’s about religion, sexuality, whatever it is.
“But I think that’s the reason why some people still want to keep it to themselves.”