on the ball

Former top soccer star says there are gay players at every club

Patrice Evra playing for Italian team, Juventus, in 2015
Patrice Evra playing for Italian team, Juventus, in 2015 (Photo: Shutterstock)

French soccer star Patrice Evra says he personally knows players who are gay but too afraid to come out. He also says it’s much more common than many suspect, with at least two players at every club.

Evra, 40, is now retired from playing. During his career, he famously spent a long spell (2006-2014) as a defender with Manchester United, arguably the most famous club in the world. He also played for Nice, West Ham, Monaco, and Juventus, and made 81 appearances for the French national team.

Evra made the comments during an interview in France for Le Parisien.

“When I was in England, they brought someone to talk to the team about homosexuality,” Evra said. “Some of my colleagues said ‘it is against my religion, if there is a homosexual in this locker room, let him leave the club’ and other comments.

“At that time, I said, ‘shut up’. I played with players who were gay. Face to face, they opened up with me because they are afraid to speak otherwise.

“There are at least two players per club who are gay. But in the world of football, if you say so, it’s over.”

Evra did not specify which club he was with where players came out to him.

Related: Rainbow stadium controversy ends with defeated Hungarian soccer team heading home

It’s not uncommon for professional clubs in the UK to run diversity and inclusion training, or to show support for LGBTQ rights by taking part in an annual ‘rainbow laces’ campaign. However, despite this, there are no professional soccer players in the UK who are out as gay.

Across the world, the only gay player in a higher league club is Josh Cavallo, who plays for Adelaide United. The 22-year-old came out last October. Although he has received a great deal of support, he has also faced abuse online and from spectators at matches.

Related: Gay soccer player Josh Cavallo calls out homophobic abuse during game

Last weekend Cavallo posted of how “disappointed” he was to face homophobic abuse as he left the pitch during a game last Saturday night.