A Twitter account claiming to belong to an anonymous gay footballer has been deleted, a day before the user was due to reveal his identity.
In his first tweet, the user @footballergay claimed he was a professional footballer “hoping to break the mould” and would “reveal his identity soon.”
He indicated that he would reveal his identity on Wednesday, but instead deleted the account, posting “I thought I was stronger. I was wrong,” before deleting, the BBC reported.
However, some people were skeptical about the validity of the claim, and some social media users believed the account to be a hoax.
Compared with other areas of society, men’s professional soccer is lacking in openly gay players.
Former United States national team player Robbie Rogers announced he was gay in 2013, while Swedish Anton Hysen is currently the only openly out player in Europe.
British footballer Justin Fashanu committed suicide in 1998, aged 37 — just eight years after announcing that he was gay.
In November, France’s World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud said he thought it was “impossible” for a professional footballer to come out as gay, and that it is an “understatement” to say the sport is not ready to accept an openly gay player.
Speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro, the Chelsea star said: “When I saw the German Thomas Hitzlsperger come out in 2014, it was very emotional,” he said. “That was when I said to myself it’s impossible to display homosexuality in football.”
Hitzlsperger, a former German international, came out as gay a year after announcing his retirement.
In contrast, several women’s football players are openly gay. During this year’s Women’s World Cup, Gay Star News reported that there were “41 openly gay or bisexual women in the World Cup in France this year.”
This story has been updated to clarify that Gay Star News reported during the World Cup that there were 41 openly gay or bisexual women in the tournament.