Sparta Prague midfielder Jakub Jankto recently revealed his sexual orientation online, and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar has extended his support to the player.
Jankto’s admission makes him one of the few footballers who have had the courage to come out as homosexual while playing at the highest level.
The talented Czech international player has made 45 appearances for his country’s national team.
The 27-year-old loanee from Getafe bravely decided to share his personal life and sexual orientation with the world, stating:
“Like everyone else, I have my strengths, I have my weaknesses, I have a family, I have friends, I have a job that I have been doing to the best of my ability for years, with seriousness, professionalism, and passion. Like everyone else. I also want to live my life in complete freedom. Without fear. Without prejudice. Without violence. BUT with love. I am homosexual and I no longer want to hide myself.”
— Jakub Jankto (@jakubjanktojr) February 13, 2023
Following his announcement, PSG forward Neymar responded by spreading the message of acceptance at a press conference:
“It’s an important day. Everyone is free, and prejudices must be less important, whether it’s homophobia, racism, any form of discrimination. But every human being should be free to do whatever they want.”
Jakub Jankto isn’t the only footballer to have come out recently. Josh Cavallo of Adelaide United and Jake Daniels of Blackpool also opened up about their sexual orientation.
A number of clubs and football leagues, including the English Premier League, also posted their backing of the 45-cap Czech international.
History of gay athletes in men’s football
Unlike in women’s football, coming out has been considered a taboo subject in the men’s game.
Former England U21 forward Justin Fashanu is widely acknowledged to be the first footballer to come out as gay.
The Englishman did so late in his career in 1990 and was then a constant target of abuse from spectators.
Defender Thomas Berling, who represented Norway at U19 level, retired aged 21 in 2000 citing homophobia in the game.
In 2013, USA international Robbie Rogers revealed his sexual orientation and retirement from football after being released by English side Leeds United.
The left winger quickly reversed his decision to quit the game, signing for LA Galaxy and becoming the first out gay man to play in a major North American sports league.
In October 2021, Jake Cavallo of Australian A-League side Adelaide United became the first active professional in a men’s top-flight league to come out.