Wednesday May 2 2012
Serie A stars divided on 'coming out'

Antonio Di Natale disagrees with Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli’s call for gay players to come out, but Diego Milito encourages it.

Prandelli wrote the foreword to a book on homosexuality in sport, Il Campione Innamorato (the champion in love), and urged football players in the closet to come out and help break the taboo around this issue.

“I agree with what Prandelli said,” commented Inter striker Milito. “Personally I’ve never realised if any of my teammates lived with this type of secret. If they did, it would be wrong to keep silent.

“I am sure that the fans, teammates and sponsors would continue to love the football player and couldn’t care less about his private life. They would never, ever let such a situation weigh on him.”

However, Milito and Prandelli appear to be in the minority in Italy, where President of the AIC (Italian Players’ Association) Damiano Tommasi suggested last year that players would do better to remain closeted.

“Professionally I really respect Prandelli and I care about him as a person, but I do not agree with him,” added Udinese captain Di Natale.

“Breaking the taboo on homosexuality in the world of football is a difficult, if not impossible, task. I ask: how would the fans react? We cannot predict everyone’s reaction.

“I’m sorry, but I do not share the choice of making such an important private situation into a public issue. Our world, in certain aspects, is very complex.”

Antonio Cabrini, the 1982 World Cup winner and Juventus legend, also gave his view on coming out in the modern game.

“Coming out is up to each individual, but clearly the world of football is not exactly ideal to declare your sexuality, as it would certainly bring problems.

“In stadiums there is so much ignorance on the theme of diversity. You just have to look at how foreign players are treated, so imagine how a player would be insulted if he declared himself gay, not to mention the media pressure on the team and the club.”

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