Football needs gay hero, says Manchester United goalkeeper

Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard believes football needs a gay hero to help change the attitude of some fans who he feels are "stuck in a time of intolerance".

The Dane claimed it would be the reception of supporters rather than team-mates which would be most likely to discourage a player from coming out as gay.

"As a footballer I think first and foremost that a homosexual colleague is afraid of the reception he could get from the fans," the 28-year-old wrote in his blog published on the Danish version of the Betfair website.

"My impression is that the players would not have a problem accepting a homosexual.

"Homosexuality in football is a taboo subject. The atmosphere on the pitch and in the stands is tough. The mechanisms are primitive, and it is often expressed through a classic stereotype that a real man should be brave, strong and aggressive. And it is not the image that a football fan associates with a gay person.

"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.

"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."

No top-division footballer has come out since Justin Fashanu did so in 1990 and Lindegaard feels the fight against homophobia in the sport requires a star name to be brave enough to do so.

Lindegaard added: "Homosexuals are in need of a hero. They are in need of someone who dares to stand up for their sexuality."

Fashanu died by suicide in 1998.

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