World’s only openly gay active pro footballer is concerned for LGBTQ community ahead of Qatar 2022 World Cup
By Tom Bateman
19 May 2019
There is one active British professional football player who is gay. Now, the only openly gay active pro footballer in Europe is going into his 30s.
Erik Lamela, 30, who plays for West Bromwich Albion at English Premier League, is concerned for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and feels their inclusion in football would make the sport more fun for everyone.
“If you are not gay and gay isn’t a part of the gay culture, then you are just a straight kid who likes football,” Lamela says. “How is having a gay football player make it more fun for everyone?”
“If you are not gay and gay isn’t a part of the gay culture, then you are just a straight kid who likes football.”
Lamela is the only active gay man playing pro football, but he hopes that his generation has an influence on wider LGBT community and encourages other gay men to open up. “Many of my friends are gay and I am open,” he says. “I would love if more people knew that I am gay.”
Lamela was drafted into a straight football side but, having grown up in London’s gay community, he says being gay was not an issue. “When I first played football I tried really hard to be straight,” he says. “If you are a gay guy coming out of homophobic households the first time might be a bit tricky. I have had gay friends and knew a couple of gay people at school.”
Lamela started to support LGBT+ rights in his early teens. He remembers in 2001 his football team were at a camp in Turkey and he met a gay couple. “They are all in their thirties now and it was a special moment to see these people come out to me,” he says.
Lamela is also a part of the LGBT+ community in the United Kingdom. He is an ambassador for the British Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association and regularly