Football referee comes out as gay after homophobic slur used at one of his games

"I feel the time is right" says Tom Harald Hagen.


Image: YouTube

FIFA has praised a high-profile Norwegian football referee who came out publicly as gay.

In an interview with Glåmdalen earlier this week, Tom Harald Hagen explained the decision was prompted by a player's alleged homophobic slur against another player at Sunday's Vålerenga IF vs Kristiansund match.

Such incidents have prompted player protests and walk-offs in the US and the UK of late.

"It has always been a completely natural part of life"

Speaking to the publication (as per Pink News) Hagen said: "I feel the time is right and I think that only positive things will come out of this. I have gradually become confident in myself, and my life is very good.

"I feel it is important to make it safe, including the fact that I am gay. I have lived like that all my life, my relationship, my family – and my football family."

He added: “For me, it has always been a completely natural part of life.”

Speaking about Sunday's incident, he continued: “It is the height of irony that I was just leading that match. Maybe he said it on a whim, that can happen in football. But we have to get rid of it.”

"FIFA commends Hagen on this courageous decision"

Responding to the news, FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility and Education Officer Joyce Cook said in a statement: "FIFA commends Hagen on this courageous decision. For an active actor of the game to come out, and the positive reactions that this has generated overall, sends a clear message in favour of diversity.

"Football has to be for all and Tom Harald’s brave move is important to show the way and make everyone feel safe and welcome in our game."

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