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jinshuiqian0713
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14 May 2020, 05:36

BERLIN -- A former World Cup player from Germany came out as gay on Wednesday, rebuking the Russian anti-gay law that threatens to tarnish next months Sochi Olympics and challenging the longstanding stigma against homosexuality in football. With his announcement, Thomas Hitzlsperger became the biggest name in football to declare he is gay. He said he wants to help break down the prejudice against homosexuality that has long permeated the macho, testosterone-fueled culture of the worlds most popular sport. "I am expressing my sexuality because I want to promote the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes," Hitzlsperger said in the German newspaper Die Zeit, a statement that was widely welcomed by his countrymen and former teammates. His disclosure came less than a month before the start of the Winter Games in Sochi, which have been the focus of a furious backlash in the West against a recently enacted Russian law banning gay "propaganda." The Olympics "are ahead of us, and I think we need some critical voices to counter the campaigns by various governments against homosexuality," Hitzlsperger said. Before retiring from the game four months ago, the 31-year-old former midfielder played in Englands Premier League and in Germany as well as Italy. He is the first German player to come out and the first from the Premier League. The fact that Hitzlsperger waited until his career was over to make the announcement reflected the persistent taboo in the game, where many players are reluctant to discuss homosexuality because they fear the reaction of teammates and fans. Hitzlsperger said he felt the time was right to broach a subject that was "simply ignored." "I get particularly annoyed by the fact that people who know the least are precisely the people to talk the loudest about this issue," he added, noting that the word "gay" is commonly used as a slur against footballers. At many football grounds, sexually themed chants are not uncommon. Fans in Britain sometimes chant songs that are viewed as religiously, sexually or racially offensive. In many European countries, especially in Russia and Eastern Europe, thousands of fans chant obscene songs, defying all attempts to stop them. Hitzlsperger said his own record shattered the idea that gays are "sissies." "I was a pretty tough guy with an extremely strong shot. Thats not something many can claim," he said. "My nickname is The Hammer. Its complete nonsense that gay men are unmanly." In England, outspoken Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton praised Hitzlsperger for his "courage" but lamented that he had to wait until now to make his announcement. "Sad times when people have to wait until they retire from their chosen profession before they feel other people will judge them solely on who the human being is," Barton said on Twitter. "Shame on all of us as a society." Hitzlsperger said he grew up in a small community in Catholic-dominated Bavaria, where homosexuality was treated as something unnatural or even criminal. He had a long-term relationship with a girlfriend and planned to marry her. "But then after eight years, the relationship ended without my partner knowing about my feelings for men. That was six years ago," Hitzlsperger said. "Only in the last few years did it dawn on me that I would rather live with a man." Hitzlsperger represented Germany at the 2006 World Cup and 2008 European Championship. He played for Bayern Munichs youth teams before switching to English club Aston Villa in 2001. He later played for Stuttgart, Italian club Lazio, West Ham, Wolfsburg and then Everton in the Premier League. "Homosexuality is not a serious issue in England, Germany or Italy, not in the dressing room in any case," said Hitzlsperger, who made 52 appearances for Germanys national team from 2004 to 2010. "Thats why its not easy to find anyone in the football scene who will talk publicly about his sexual orientation. To this day, I dont know any footballer personally who has made this an issue. "I was never ashamed of how I am," said Hitzlsperger, adding that the behaviour of some of his teammates was sometimes hard to take. "Think about it. There are 20 young men sitting around a table drinking. You let most of it go, as long as the jokes are halfway funny and the rubbish about homosexuals is not hugely offensive." Last February, American player Robbie Rogers declared he was gay before announcing his retirement. He returned to action with the Los Angeles Galaxy after an overwhelmingly positive reaction to his declaration. Former English player Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest, was the first footballer to say openly that he was gay in 1990. He committed suicide eight years later at age 37. Swedish defender Anton Hysen came out in 2011. Athletes from other sports have also spoken about their sexuality. Last month, British Olympic diver Tom Daley said he was in a relationship with a man. Other high-profile gay athletes include former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas, English cricketer Steven Davies and former NBA players Jason Collins and John Amaechi. On Twitter, German forward Lukas Podolski welcomed his former international teammates announcement, calling it "brave and right" and "an important sign in our time." Another former international teammate, Arne Friedrich, tweeted, "Im proud of you. Good decision and at the right time in my opinion." Government spokesman Steffen Seibert praised Hitzlspergers announcement on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel. "We judge footballers by whether they conduct themselves well and with dignity on and off the pitch, and I believe both are true for Mr. Hitzlsperger," Seibert said. German football federation president Wolfgang Niersbach said Hitzlsperger "was always an example for whom I had the highest respect, and this respect is even greater now." Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said players were unaware of Hitzlspergers sexuality until after his retirement, when the player informed both him and Germany coach Joachim Loew. Said Bierhoff: "Well give him every support so he can continue on his courageous path." Loew hoped Hitzlspergers "announcement helps us all to be more relaxed about this issue." https://www.newyorkfootballshop.com/94-Jersey . Diego Costa headed in Gabis corner seven minutes from time to secure victory ahead of the return match in Madrid on March 11. "We know that at Madrid it will be another game, which will also be important and very difficult," Milan coach Clarence Seedorf said. https://www.newyorkfootballshop.com/75-Jersey . The day began ominously for the Rangers when star pitcher Yu Darvish was scratched from his scheduled start with stiffness in his neck. Fill-in Scott Baker gave up three hits over six innings and Chris Gimenez hit a tiebreaking two-out RBI single in the sixth off Phil Hughes. https://www.newyorkfootballshop.com/26-Jersey. -- Henry Josey watched helplessly from the sideline last fall, rehabbing from a serious knee injury, while Missouri was getting pushed around in its first SEC season. https://www.newyorkfootballshop.com/92-Jersey . Thats 14 consecutive losses to the two-time defending champs, and most of them were over before they even began. Result notwithstanding, Sundays game had a very different feel to it. https://www.newyorkfootballshop.com/42-Jersey . The teams were scoreless for most of the first two periods before Canada scored three times in a span of less than four minutes. Sarah Potomak opened the scoring on the power play.Arsene Wenger does not think Jamie Vardy will start for England in their Euro 2016 opener against Russia on Saturday as Arsenal continue to be linked with a move for the striker. Sky Sports Euro 2016 predictor Make your predictions with our interactive wall chart here. Vardy is in France with the England squad but it has been his club future dominating the headlines in recent days.Sky sources understand Vardy held talks with Arsenal after the Gunners triggered a £20m release clause in his Leicester contract. No decision is anticipated on Tuesday and Wenger would not comment about a move for the 29-year-old when he spoke to beIN Sports, preferring to focus on Vardys possibilities with England over the next few weeks. Wenger would not comment on the possiblity of Vardy joining Arsenal I dont think that Vardy will be a starter, Wenger said. He has earned his place in the squad.I dont say this because he does not have the quality, but because he doesnt have enough experience at that level to say the whole tournament will depend on Vardy. Will he be there? Certainly. Olivier Giroud says he has been told Vardy wants to join Arsenal Wenger also explained how he feels pace has become increasingly important for strikers.dddddddddddd Vardy, renowned for his speed, scored 24 goals this season as Leicester claimed an unlikely Premier League title.Football progresses always. The offence creates a new problem, the defence responds. What has happened in the last 10 years is that the strikers have become quicker and quicker. Stay or go? Should Jamie Vardy leave Leicester for Arsenal? Whats happened? The defence have responded by creating quicker and quicker defenders. Also See: Vardy: Stay or go? Sturridge backs focused Vardy Age not an issue Latest England news ' ' '
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