Czech international footballer Jakub Jankto is the latest active top-flight male footballer to come out as gay, following in the footsteps of players such as Josh Cavallo of Adelaide United and Jake Daniels of Blackpool in publicly announcing his sexuality.
- Jakub Jankto is the highest-profile footballer and first men’s national team player to publicly identify as gay
- He has received support from across the footballing world, including from Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo, who was the first top-flight male player to come out in 2021
- Men’s sport is often described as “the last closet” due to the disproportionate lack of LGBTQIA+ representation
“Hi, I’m Jakub Jankto,” he said in a video posted to his social media channels on Tuesday.
“Like everybody else, I have my strengths, I have my weaknesses. I have a family, I have my friends.
“I have a job, which I have been doing as best as I can for years, with seriousness, professionalism and passion.
“Like everybody else, I also want to live my life in freedom: without fears, without prejudice, without violence, but with love.
“I am homosexual, and I no longer want to hide myself.”
Jankto is the highest-profile male footballer in the world to identify as LGBTQIA+ and the first current men’s national team representative to come out.
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He debuted for Czechia in 2017 and has appeared 45 times for his country, scoring four goals.
His announcement was immediately met with support from organisations including FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League, as well as Cavallo himself.
“Well done on coming out, Jakub,” the Australian wrote on Twitter.
“Very proud of you my friend. Nothing in life is to be feared. Welcome to the family #onelove.”
Jankto’s club, Sparta Prague, where he is currently on loan from Spanish side Getafe, also publicly expressed their support.
“Jakub spoke openly about his sexual orientation with the club’s management, coach and teammates some time ago,” the club said.
“Everything else concerns his personal life. No further comments. No more questions. You have our support. Live your life, Jakub. Nothing else matters.”
Only a handful of current male athletes in all professional sport publicly identify as queer, including Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders (NFL), Luke Prokop of the Nashville Predators (NHL) and, most recently, Isaac Humphries of Melbourne United (NBL), while several more have come out after retiring.
As a result, men’s sport is often described as “the last closet” due to the disproportionate lack of representation of LGBTQIA+ people compared with many other industries, as well as the general population.
The reasons for this under-representation are varied and complex.
Research has found cultures of hyper-masculinity in sport, the common use of homophobic and transphobic language as part of locker-room “banter”, rigid gender roles and stereotypes, a lack of visible queer leaders, the normalisation of violence, and peer pressure have all resulted in a significant drop-out rate of LGBTQIA+ men and boys from sport.
But small acts of courage by athletes such as Jankto and Cavallo have slowly started to change the conversation, as have initiatives run by sports clubs and competitions such as the A-Leagues’ recently-announced Pride Celebration round, which will run concurrently with Sydney Mardi Gras later this month.
While there are some questions over the effectiveness of Pride rounds in reducing homophobic language and behaviours, there is little doubt that the growing visibility of the LGBTQIA+ men in sport remains a powerful force in inspiring others to live their lives as openly and proudly as they choose to, with a message at the end of Jankto’s video reading: “This is not an entertainment. The purpose of this video is to encourage others.”