In the UK, It's a 'Big, Big Moment' for Soccer

Blackpool's Jake Daniels, 17, is first professional male player to come out as gay in decades
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2022 11:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – British soccer player Jake Daniels capped a successful season for Blackpool Football Club's youth team by making his debut on the main team—and by becoming the country's first professional men's soccer player to come out as gay in decades. The 17-year-old, who scored 30 goals for the youth team this season, came out in a statement released by the club Monday and praised the LGBTQ advocacy group Stonewall, CNN reports. "I've known my whole life that I'm gay, and I now feel that I'm ready to come out and be myself," he said.

Daniels thanked his family, the club, and Stonewall for their advice and support. "I have also confided in my teammates in the youth team here at Blackpool, and they too have embraced the news and supported my decision to open up and tell people," he said. Several players in the women's game have come out as gay, but Daniels is the first pro male player to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990. Fashanu killed himself eight years later. Daniels' move was widely praised, with commentator and former Manchester United star Gary Neville saying it took "incredible courage," reports Sky Sports.

Neville said the announcement was a "big, big moment for football." Prince William, who's president of England's Football Association, praised the teen in a tweet. "Football should be a game for everyone," the prince wrote. "What Jake has done takes courage and will hopefully help break down barriers that have no place in our society." Daniels, whose team is in the second tier of England's league system, said he was inspired by Australian player Josh Cavallo, who came out last year and is currently the only openly gay top-level men's soccer player in the world, the BBC reports. (Read more soccer stories.)

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