Coming out could help a gay footballer play better, suggests Jarvis as West Ham winger aims to tackle homophobia
21:54 GMT, 3 January 2013
23:29 GMT, 3 January 2013
West Ham winger Matt Jarvis has insisted it is time a gay footballer felt comfortable enough to come out and believes that doing so could aid an individual's on-pitch performances.
Jarvis has followed the leads of David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg to become only the third footballer to feature on the cover of the UK's bestselling gay magazine, Attitude, and is confident that homophobia would not be a significant problem.
'It's everyday life,' said Jarvis, who is married. 'It's not something that's going to be a shock.
Supportive: Jarvis believes gay footballers need no longer fear a backlash
'I'm sure there are many footballers who are gay, but when they decide to actually come out and say it, it is a different story. It's one that I'm sure they've thought about many times. But it's a hard thing for them to do.'
When asked if being out could improve a player's performance, Jarvis responded: 'I'd agree with that. Because you've always got something you're worried about at the back of your mind.
'If you can let that go and then just concentrate on your one goal, which is whichever sport you're doing to the best of your ability, I think that would help. Definitely.'
Record: Jarvis, at 10.75m, is West Ham's club record signing
The first 1m black footballer Justin Fashanu famously came out in 1990
but became the victim of considerable abuse and killed himself eight
years later, and the only player to come out since is Anton Hysen of the
Swedish lower leagues.
Jarvis, however, believes a modern player would receive greater backing and acceptance if he decided to do the same.
'There'd be support everywhere within the football community, whether it be players, fans or within the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association],' Jarvis explained. 'There would definitely be groups of people who would be supportive and help them through it.'
Tragic: The loss of Justin Fashanu may have discouraged other gay footballers from coming out
Attitude's editor, Matthew Todd, however, believes football has a problem with homophobia and needs to tackle it in the same way it is racism.
'It's ridiculous that there are no openly gay players in professional football,' Todd said.
'There's rightly been a focus on ridding the beautiful game of racism, but there doesn't seem to be much effort to tackle homophobia.
Lion: Jarvis on international duty with England's senior side
'We know there are gay players – and fans who support the game religiously – so I hope this starts a discussion and is a small step in the right direction.'