Czech football player comes out as gay: ‘I no longer want to hide myself’

Czech footballer Jakub Jankto has come out with a video on social media. The 27-year-old Jankto, active at Sparta Prague and for the Czech national team, receives the full support of his club for his coming-out. This makes him the only European footballer in the top division who is openly gay.
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In the video Jankto says: "Like everybody else, I have my strengths and I have my weaknesses. I have my family. I have my friends. I have a job which I’ve been doing the best that I can, for years. With seriousness, professionalism and passion. Like everybody else, I also want to live my life in freedom. Without fears, without prejudice, without violence, but with love. I’m homosexual and I no longer want to hide myself.”

In response to the Tweet with the coming-out video, players, clubs and football associations massively express their support. The British Premier League account writes: "We stand with you Jakub, football is for everyone". German football club Schalke 04 says Jankto has their "full support". UEFA calls him an “inspiration” for European football.

It is rare for professional football players to come out during their careers. To date, Australian professional footballer Josh Calvallo was the only player in the top division to be openly gay. Jake Daniels, 17, who plays in the British first division, came out in May last year. Jankto's coming out is therefore unique in the European top class.

Still, homophobia is a problem that football associations struggle with. For example, Dutch players Orkun Kökcü and Redouan El Yaakoubi made the news because they did not want to make an anti-discrimination statement on coming-out day because of “religious beliefs”. The French national team was criticized at the last World Cup men's football when they also refused such a statement to "respect" the culture of host country Qatar.

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