Homophobia is still an issue in modern soccer.
It’s why some players who are gay choose to come out after their careers, such as German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger or U.S. winger Robbie Rogers, who has since returned to the game.
Games like Football Manager 2018 is tackling the issue. The popular simulator, which allows you to play the role of a soccer team manager, has a neat little feature which allows virtual players to come out.
These announcements are posted in the game’s inbox feature, which is where you’d receive emails about news items in the world of the game.
Miles Jacobson, the game’s director, told the BBC the feature was included because there are gay footballers out there.
“We know from the amount of professionals that there has to be players who are gay but feel they don’t want to come out. I find it weird that it’s still a problem in football so we decided to try and show people that coming out isn’t a big deal and can be a positive thing,” he said.
“I just think it’s crazy that in 2017 we are in a world where people can’t be themselves.”
I wasn’t expecting this to be found so quickly but yes, it’s real. And you get a nice little merchandise boost if it happens in your save ?? https://t.co/sceRnqCOzo
— Miles Jacobson (@milesSI) October 29, 2017
Not every player will receive the message, but if one of your players on your team comes out, then it comes with a financial bonus due to increased support from the LGBTQ community.
The feature won’t apply to current real-life players due to legal reasons, but rather newly-spawned players which appear the game. It also won’t apply to players based in countries where it’s illegal to be gay.
“In those cases we have simply respected their laws, so if a player is based in one of those countries, the player won’t come out,” Jacobson told the news outlet.
“Being gay is just a totally normal thing in life, and it’s the right thing to put it in the game because it’s something that we’re going to be seeing in the future.”
Of course, LGBTQ characters have been in video games for a long time. It’s just real life that has to catch up, and there’s been progress in professional football with the likes of the Rainbow Laces campaign in the UK.