Former England and Manchester United player has said that he had encouraged a gay footballer player to come out – but that the player’s lawyers had advised him not to.
Ferdinand was giving evidence to a group of MPs about the Online Safety Bill which mainly deals with racism in the sport, when the discussion turned to homophobia.
“I’ve just met currently a player who had come out, and he was advised by a lawyer not to come out and speak,” he told the committee.
“I initially said, ‘You need to come out and speak your truth and be proud of who you are’. The reason why the lawyer advised him not to come out is because every individual is very different and you can’t use a blanket approach.”
He went on to say that the lawyer “advised him based on his experience with that individual, and he didn’t think that he was strong enough mentally at that time, and have the right pieces in place to be able to withstand the media attention and the spotlight.”
There are currently no openly gay male footballers in the English professional league, although there are many in the women’s sport.
Ferdinand said that he regarded it as unfair to compare football with the number of openly gay athletes in other sports.
“The amount of eyeballs and the amount of attention and press pages that they’re going to get extra is so much more,” he said.
“It’s about, ‘are you capable of coming out and being able to withstand that media attention?'”