In an interview with the Associated Press, Englishman John Amaechi, who became the first openly gay former NBA player in 2007, said “the NBA is light years ahead of
[English] football” when it comes to recognizing gay players in its league. Amaechi offered advice to Washington Wizards Center Jason Collins when he publicly announced that he
is gay on Monday. However, the former Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets player says it will be a long time before an active English soccer star comes out of the closet.
"If [England’s Football Association] wanted to be a better, more progressive organization 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. Let's face it,” he added. “You are better off being the kind of football player who bites like a 5-year-old than a gay player in football. One would get you less ridicule from the powers that be. It's shocking to me."
Amaechi added that several gay soccer players have reached out to him privately, but they would never come out publicly as Collins did this week. "There are plenty of them who are already out, who have come out to some of their teammates," he said. "But they just don't want (to in public). They don't have any faith in football to do its job, to do its duty."
Former Leeds United and Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers came out earlier this year, while at the same time announcing his retirement from the game at the age of 25, as he said it would be “impossible” to continue his soccer career now that he is openly gay.