Thursday, 31 March 2011

Anton Hysen: an inspiration

The fourth tier of Swedish football does not normally get a whole load of international press coverage.

But that was before Anton Hysen, a midfielder for Utsiktens BK, decided to publicly declare his sexuality.

Hysén, the son of former Liverpool and Swedish international Glenn Hysén, recently came out as Sweden's first openly gay male footballer.

He is only the second high-level footballer to come out in the world, ever, after the Justin Campaign's figurehead Justin Fashanu.

But reading this article from the Guardian newspaper highlights that even with strong family support and being away from the intense media pressure of the top tier of football there are still many questions unanswered.

How will it affect his football? Will opposition taunts ever die down? What impact will it have on his personal life?

Reading the comments in the piece it is clear Anton is a very strong-willed individual who is simply living his own life.

He says: "There's nothing to be a role model for – you're gay, it's not a big thing. People tell me I'm a celebrity now, and I shouldn't be. But as long as it helps [others by speaking openly], I'll do everything I can. If there's anyone afraid of coming out they should give me a call."

The support he has received has also been fantastic, which can only be encouraging for LGBT fans and players across the world.

He says: "Everyone has been very positive. I was on the train last weekend and this girl said: 'You've made the world a better place, thank you for being there for everyone,' and I haven't done anything.

"But when you think about it, I kinda have. Obviously I haven't been playing in the top league but I'm still going for it, and I'm still the only active player who has come out, so of course it's huge.

"If you're a real man in the Premier League you'd say, 'If you've got a problem, call me.' There has to be some way – whoever plays in the Premier League should try to support them."

A TV programme in the UK featuring Anton alongside Rugby star Gareth Thomas and England cricketer Steven Davies planned for the coming weeks will also further bring the subject to the country's attention.

The Justin Campaign has already publicly supported Anton.

Whether his actions will lead to a UK professional player coming out in the next few months or even years it not important. Such a decision is ultimately down to the individual.

But the key thing is that clubs and authorities see it as an issue and have a support network in place to ensure that anyone who wants to can do so with as much backing as Anton has received.

His lead has already shown that homosexuality in football is less of an unspeakable "taboo" but uncharted territory that authorities, players and fans should not be afraid.

No comments:

Post a Comment