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Manchester United star: Soccer needs a "gay hero"

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European soccer is a notorious hotbed of homophobia, but one key player believes it’s time the sport welcomes a “gay hero.”

Manchester United goalie Anders Lindegaard criticized the sport’s anti-gay stigma and said the time is right for a player to come out as openly gay. The Danish native blogged last week that homosexuality in football is a “taboo topic.”

“The problem for me is that a lot of football fans are stuck in a time of intolerance that does not deserve to be compared with modern society’s development in the last decades,” Lindegaard wrote. “While the rest of the world has been more liberal, civilised and less prejudiced, the world of football remains stuck in the past when it comes to tolerance.”

The post came from a discussion with his girlfriend, supermodel Misse Beqiri, who noted that her industry is very liberal and sexually open-minded.

Lindegaard noted the discrepancy from a 1997 survey that 12 percent of Danish men claimed to be gay to the present, where no members of the 1,000-strong Danish Players’ Association have come out. The heavily masculine notion that football is often perceived with is not welcoming to a gay player.

“To turn a blind eye only indicates that one is not recognising that there is a problem,” Lindegaard posted. “Of course there is a problem if young homosexuals, who love football, have to quit the sport because they feel excluded.”

He went on to say that discrimination is “totally unacceptable, whatever it is about religion, sexuality, etc.”

Lindegaard isn’t the first pro athlete to tackle homophobia this year. In the United States, players from several professional sport leagues are echoing Lindegaard’s sentiment, most notably Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe , who’s become one of the NFL’s most vocal gay-marriage supporters.

Photo by Ian C/Flickr