Antoine Griezmann believes gay footballers are scared to come out, despite the progress that has been made in sport.
The likes Tom Daley, Nicola Adams, Gareth Thomas and Keegan Hirst have all felt comfortable enough to come out in recent years, but there are currently no openly gay footballers in Europe’s major leagues.
Griezmann says he would respect any player’s decision, but feels many are scared to be themselves for fear of reprisals from fans.
“Players do not come out of the closet because they are afraid,’ he told El Pais . “We have to appear hard and strong but we are afraid of what people will say about us.
“Of course, I have nothing against anyone, I respect everybody.”
When asked if he himself would come out if he was gay, the Atletico forward replied: “I think I would but of course that’s easier said when you do not have to go through it.
“There are a lot of bad people in football and players can be afraid to go to stadiums and get abused.”
Former Leeds United left-back Robbie Rogers came out in 2013 but retired from football immediately after doing so.
He eventually returned to the game with LA Galaxy and has since admitted he could no longer go on living a lie.
“I wanted to be free from the secret, I did it in a selfish way,” he said in 2013.
“I did it for my sanity, for my happiness. I didn’t want to live another second of carrying it around with me.
“It was on my mind for a while – I had to do it. And after finally getting the courage, it was like, ‘I’m over this, I have to change something’.”