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Is Germany’s Soccer Captain Michael Ballack’s Camp Helping Homophobia Stay Alive?

Two months before Germany would come in third place at the World cup, the agent of handsome team captain Michael Ballack, who sat out the tournament with an injury, went after his teammates, calling them a “bunch of queers.”

The comments made by Michael Becker, who’s been Ballack’s go-to adviser for more than a decade, were reported by Der Spiegel‘s Alexander Osang, who claims Becker said he knew which German footballers are gay, relays the English-language German site The Local:

Osang […] wrote that Becker had said during a conversation two months before the World Cup at a restaurant in Luxembourg that he knew which players on the team were gay. A few days later, Becker told a group of journalists and players’ managers at a match played by Ballack’s new club Bayer Leverkusen that there was a former national player who was going to expose a “bunch of queers” within the national team. Osang wrote that others present had merely reacted with nods.

Later, when Osang asked Becker if another national team player was also homosexual, Becker answered that he was “half-gay.” Osang concluded that homosexuality was “a synonym for anything that Becker did not understand.”

Denying the report, Becker now isn’t commenting further.

Becker told daily Bild he would neither confirm nor deny making the remarks and merely said: “The colleague from Der Spiegel must clearly have misunderstood something.” He did not elaborate. Whether Becker was talking about the private lives of specific players or simply using offensive language is not clear, however the remarks are likely to intensify concerns that professional football remains an area where homosexuality is a taboo.

I’ve actually got little problem with someone in the soccer business discussing the fact that there are gay players in the league. Because, well, there are. And we should be able to talk about them, once they get their butts out of the closet. Might his use of words be a little less coarse (see: “bunch of queers”)? Sure. And it’d be nice to counter a player’s threat to out them with some reasonable discourse.