Telstar and FC Volendam will play in the 'Vissersderby' on Friday evening, both in a specially designed rainbow shirt.

Captains Glynor Plet and Damon Mirani of the Kitchen Champion Division clubs hope that this action will help to break the taboo on homosexuality in professional football.

Follow this topic Follow

Get notified of new articles about lhbtiq+

In his eight years as a professional football player, he sees that a shift is slowly taking place.

That the conservative 'macho world' becomes a bit more open.

And that LGBTQ+ acceptance is discussed more often and more easily in the dressing room.

"But the taboo is still too big for a professional football player to come out during his career," FC Volendam captain Mirani (25) said in conversation with NU.nl.

"There is still the feeling that you are not completely free to be who you are. That should not be the case and that is why it is good that we pay attention to that with this action."

In the week of International Coming Out Day, which was last Monday, there are actions at all professional football matches to support the LGBTQ+ community worldwide.

For example, all captains play with a OneLove captain's armband, the coaches and the referees wear a rainbow pin and all corner flags will have the colors of the rainbow.

The action initiated by the Alliantie Draw (John Blankenstein Foundation, NOC*NSF, KNVB and KNHB) started in 2017 and is expanded a little every year.

Last season Telstar was the first club to play in a special rainbow shirt and on Friday the North Holland derby Telstar-FC Volendam will be the first football match in which both clubs wear a rainbow uniform.

"The message we want to convey is that everyone is free to be who they are, that you should respect everyone and respect each other," said Telstar captain Plet (34).

"Last year our campaign already received a lot of attention and it will certainly help that Volendam now also wears a special shirt. If more people start stirring, you will also reach more people."

Telstar director Pieter de Waard, Louis van Gaal and vice-chairman Jan Smit of FC Volendam show the special rainbow shirts.

Telstar director Pieter de Waard, Louis van Gaal and vice-chairman Jan Smit of FC Volendam show the special rainbow shirts.

Photo: Draw Alliance

'It's a shame that footballers can't be themselves'

In the international sports world there are only a handful of examples of men who dare to come out during their career.

This has never happened in Dutch professional football.

In the podcast

De Schaduwspits

of the

NOS

, an anonymous, gay professional who plays at the highest level told earlier this year what the barriers are for him.

"I think 80 to 90 percent of the football world will think:

who cares

, very important. But it is that small part that will bother you. For example, from chants in the stadiums," he said.

"I am a sportsman and I only have one goal, that is the highest attainable in my sport. That could be damaged if I now come out as gay."

Mirani understands that a gay professional football player fears the consequences of coming out.

"Certainly if you are the first. Then there will be extra pressure from the outside world and you have to be able to withstand that. I understand very well that that can be a reason to come out after your career. But it is really a shame that these footballers can't be themselves. I can imagine that your performance also suffers if you can't be who you want to be."

Plet: "It is not for nothing that no active professional football players have come out in the Netherlands yet. It takes a lot of courage. Hopefully these football players feel supported by an action like Friday's. And they find the strength to to say: OK, I'm taking the step now."

FC Volendam captain Damon Mirani.

FC Volendam captain Damon Mirani.

Photo: Pro Shots

'This topic must be widely disseminated'

Plet and Mirani think that it would pose no problem in the changing rooms of Telstar and FC Volendam respectively if a gay player revealed his sexuality.

This is in line with the results of the study

Gay acceptance in professional men's football

, which the Mulier Institute conducted this year.

In this study of more than a hundred Dutch professional football players, 90 percent said they would openly support a teammate if he wanted to come out.

In the study, (negative) reactions from fans are identified as the biggest obstacle to the acceptance of homosexuality in professional football.

"That is precisely why this topic must be widely disseminated, and not just this week," says Mirani.

"We shouldn't make a special shirt just to go along with this statement and then ignore it."

The FC Volendam captain acknowledges that an action with rainbow shirts will not immediately cause (major) changes.

"You can't go from zero to a hundred in one go, it takes time. But that's no reason to do nothing. The ultimate goal is full acceptance by everyone involved in football. Then it can take a long time, but I I think we're going to reach that goal."

See also: Why attention to coming-outs is still necessary

Keywords: first, telstar, pieter de waard, damon mirani, taboo, football., fc volendam, clubs, glynor plet, football, homosexuality, action, rainbow shirt, acceptance, damon mirani.photo