• Premier League

Amaechi: Prem players wary of coming out

ESPN staff
April 30, 2013
John Amaechi became the first openly gay NBA player in 2007 © PA Photos

Biting an opponent would be seen as "better" than coming out as gay in the Premier League, former NBA star John Amaechi has said.

On Monday, Washington Wizards center Jason Collins announced he is gay, becoming the first active male player in a major American team sport to come out.

Collins spoke to Englishman Amaechi, who became the first openly gay former NBA player in 2007, before making his sexuality known to the public.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Amaechi is of the belief that "the NBA is light years ahead of football", meaning that footballers in England are wary of coming out.

"If it wanted to be a better, more progressive organisation that supported diversity, not because it looks pretty when you put it on the back of your annual report, it could be," Amaechi said.

"It has the resources. It doesn't want to get rid of the dinosaur, so the dinosaurs continue to roar through the hallways of football, making sure that everyone knows how you have to behave."

Alluding to the recent incident which saw Liverpool striker Luis Suarez banned for ten games for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, Amaechi added: "Let's face it. You are better off being the kind of football player who bites like a five-year-old than a gay player in football. One would get you less ridicule from the powers that be. It's shocking to me."

In 1990, the former Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu became the first professional footballer in the UK to come out as gay. Fashanu took his own life in 1998.

In February this year, former US international Robbie Rogers revealed he had to step away from football in order to come out as gay because it is "impossible" to do so while within the game.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.