One of the beautiful game's biggest stars has said he would have no problem welcoming an openly gay player to the highest ranks of football.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, who returned to the club last year for a then-record transfer fee of €105 million (£89.3 million), says he believes that gay players would be respected in the Premier League.
During an appearance at Uefa’s respect campaign in Monaco this week, the French international player was asked whether a gay player would be welcome in British sport's biggest stage.
"That’s something that I’ve never seen but why not? It’s a human being," Pogba replied.
The 24-year-old continued: "What he does in his private life has nothing to do with the player. You just have to respect him. Because he respects you, you respect him. That's it.
"It's all about respect. It's all about equality everywhere in the world. We are all equal when we play football."
Much has been made of the fact that there are currently no openly gay footballers in the Premier League, and the sport has a poor track record when it comes to acceptance of gay players.
The late Justin Fashanu found himself shunned by fans, the media and various clubs after coming out in 1990, while former West Ham midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger spent a year in retirement before coming out publicly in 2014.
Former Leeds United star Robbie Rogers came out in 2013 as he announced his retirement from football. The California-born athlete later returned to the sport in the US leagues, where he continues to play for LA Galaxy.
While the wait continues for an openly gay footballer in Britain, referee Ryan Atkin became the sport’s first professional official to come out publicly as gay
in the UK earlier his month.
The 32-year-old told Attitude
following the announcement that media pressure surrounding the issue was discouraging gay footballers from being open about their sexuality.
I think speculation is what keeps players from coming out as gay," Atkin said. "The weight on their shoulders would be huge.
"I don’t know if a player will want to go from being the good footballer to the good gay footballer. I don’t think anyone would want that title."
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