That homophobia is so prevalent in football is distressing, even if it’s not entirely surprising. One is immediately reminded of Robbie Rogers, who famously made a public announcement in 2013 in which he simultaneously came out as gay and retired from football, saying that he couldn’t hide who he was any longer but understood football culture for what it was and knew that practically no dressing room would have him now (at least not in England). He soon returned to playing after MLS and the LA Galaxy made very explicit overtures toward him, and now, three years and a position change later, Rogers seems to be doing pretty well for himself.
Yet even Rogers’ story is most definitely the exception in a sport where queer folks— players, technical staff, officials, and, until recently, fans— simply aren’t welcome. For all the noises made by national associations, UEFA, and FIFA about tolerance and acceptance, and for all the well-meaning public initiatives like Football v Homophobia and Don’t Cross The Line, the story of Jesús Tomillero shows that there’s still a very, very long way to go.