European men’s football witnessed a trailblazing moment, with Blackpool forward Jake Daniels coming out as gay at the end of his first season with the second-division club.
“This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch but off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I really am,” Daniels was quoted as saying in a statement.
“I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself. It’s a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality.”
While the women’s game has many prominent pioneers, men’s football lacks LGBTQ visibility.
England national team captain Harry Kane praised Daniels, tweeting, “Massive credit to you @Jake_Daniels11 and the way your friends, family, club, and captain have supported you. Football should be welcoming for everyone.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson lauded the Blackpool forward’s courage and said that his revelation will inspire more people both on and off the field.
“Thank you for your bravery Jake, it would have taken huge courage to come out and you will be an inspiration to many both on and off the pitch,” tweeted Johnson.
Thank you for your bravery Jake, it would have taken huge courage to come out and you will be an inspiration to many both on and off the pitch. https://t.co/tCmSUBnj5R
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) May 16, 2022
Daniels added that he was inspired by Australian team Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo, who plays in the top division as an openly gay man.
“I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in. I want to be a role model myself by doing this. There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality.
“I just want to tell them that you don’t have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in. You being you, and being happy, is what matters most,” said Daniels.
HOMOPHOBIA IN MEN’S FOOTBALL
Men’s football in England is still trying to eradicate homophobic chants at some games.
“If, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant,” Daniels told broadcaster Sky Sports. “If they think this kid is brave enough do this, I will be able to do it too. I hate knowing people are in the same situation I was in.”
“I think if a Premier League footballer does come out that would just be amazing. I feel like I would have done my job and inspired someone else to do that. I just want it to go up from here. We shouldn’t be where we are right now.”