Rio Ferdinand met gay footballer who was advised 'not to come out'
Ferdinand claimed the player was "advised by a lawyer not to come out and speak"
Rio Ferdinand has revealed that he recently met a gay footballer who had been told not to come out.
The Manchester United legend was giving evidence to a committee of MPs and peers on Thursday in a discussion about the Online Safety Bill.
The 42-year-old explained that while he was at first taken back by the advice given to the player, he eventually came to understand it.
Exactly. The fascination with the Qs “who is gay?” or “why isn’t there a gay player in the Premier League?” is part of the problem…. https://t.co/Vg3VSffFkZ
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) September 9, 2021
Ferdinand told the committee: "I just met currently a player who had come out. He was advised by a lawyer not to come out and speak.
"I was initially like 'Wow, why? You need to come out, you need to speak and say your truth and be proud of who you are.'"
Ferdinand continued: "The reason why the lawyer advised him not to come out, which I now understand, is because every individual is very different and you can't use a blanket approach. Every individual is at a different stage of their lives and understanding themselves, their sexuality.
"He advised him based on his experience with that individual. He didn't think he was strong enough mentally at that time, and had the right pieces in place to be able to withstand the media attention, the spotlight, all of the different emotions that are going to come out, and pressures."
There are currently no publicly gay male players in English professional football.
Last month, legendary Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas spoke to JOE about discrimination and hate in sport. He said that sport in general has a problem with homophobia but that "football as a global game has one of the biggest problems for many, many reasons."