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FIFA’s first openly gay referee says at least “30 to 40 percent” of footballers identify as queer

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Football referee Igor Benevenuto said that a large number of players identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Back in July, the Brazilian sports official made history as the first openly gay FIFA-ranked referee. “Soccer was for men, and since an early age I knew I was gay… there was not a more perfect place to hide my sexuality,” Benevenuto shared on the Nos Armários dos Vestiários podcast. “I am 41, and 23 of those years have been dedicated to the whistle.

Until today I’ve never been the real me. Gays are used to not being themselves. Shortly after his groundbreaking coming-out announcement, FIFA issued a statement to GloboEsporte in support of Benevenuto. “FIFA welcomes and supports referee Igor Benevenuto and his decision to come out.

As highlighted at other times, FIFA strongly believes that football is for everyone,” the organisation said. “And Igor striving to be true to himself is an important moment for football in Brazil and in other countries around the world.

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