Blackpool FC forward Jake Daniels came out as homosexual on Monday, becoming the first professional male soccer player in the United Kingdom since 1990.
On Monday, Blackpool FC released a statement from Daniels, along with a message from the club, saying it is “extremely proud” that he has “arrived at a stage where he is empowered to express himself both on and off the pitch.”
“I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself,” Daniels wrote. … “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.
After blossoming as a goal-scorer with the club’s youth team, Jake Daniels, 17, signed his first professional contract and made his debut with Blackpool’s first team earlier in May. Blackpool is a member of the English Football Competition Championship, which is the second-tier league in the United Kingdom after the Premier League.
Daniels is the first professional male soccer player in the UK to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990, according to The Independent. Fashanu was the first professional British soccer player to come out as gay. He played for various teams in the UK and abroad. In 1998, he committed suicide.
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Daniels stated in his statement that he wished to offer comfort to others who may be hesitant to confess their sexuality.
“There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality,” Daniels wrote. “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.”
Daniels also spoke with Sky Sports about his decision, telling the newspaper that he has known he is gay since he was five or six years old. He admitted to having previous girlfriends and stated he was ready to stop “living with the deception.”
He stated his family was behind him in making the news, but he expects retribution on the field and on social media.
“The subject of being gay, or bi or queer in men’s football is still a taboo,” Daniels said. “I think it comes down to how a lot of footballers want to be known for their masculinity. And people see being gay as being weak, something you can be picked on for on the football field.
“Of course I am aware that there will be a reaction to this and some of it will be homophobic, maybe in a stadium and on social media.”
The Premier League, the English Football League, and the Professional Footballers Association all issued statements in support of Daniels, according to Sky Sports.
The Premier League stated, “We support Jake and believe football is for everyone.” “On and off the field, clubs and communities are stronger when everyone feels accepted. That is why we should all speak out against bigotry and in support of the LGBTQ+ community.”