While FIFA dominates the soccer and football video-game market, a rival has come up with a way to create a buzz by making the players even more realistic.
The upcoming version of Football Manager, a football simulation game, will feature some players who come out as gay. Miles Jacobson, the game’s director, told BBC Sport that they they made the addition simply because it’s more true-to-life. “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,” Jacobson said. “I just think it’s crazy that in 2017 we are in a world where people can’t be themselves.”
When a player comes out as gay in the new version of Football Manager, a user—the team’s manager—will receive a news item in their inbox. “Soon after,” reports the BBC, “your commercial director will inform you of a boost in the club’s revenue, in part due to new attention from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.”
Hopefully games like Football Manager, whose series has sold more than 15 million copies so far, will make it easier for actual players to come out of the closet. In real life, there have been very few openly gay soccer stars. In 2014, Aston Villa, Everton, and West Ham mid-fielder Thomas Hitzlsperger became the English Premier League’s first openly gay player, but he didn’t come out until four months after he retired. LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers came out in 2013 and felt compelled to quit the game, although he has since returned to play in the U.S.
This month, David Haigh, Leeds United’s openly gay ex-managing director, told the Daily Mirror that he’d been approached privately by more than 20 football players from both the Premier League and the Championship who are gay but say they’re “afraid” to come out.
Attitudes towards gay soccer players are changing. A BBC Radio 5 live survey taken in October 2016, revealed that a vast majority—82%—of soccer fans in England, Wales and Scotland said they would be comfortable with their club signing a gay player.
Thankfully there's been a lot more positivity today than negative. Which is genuinely lovely. Night all. x
— Miles Jacobson (@milesSI) October 30, 2017
The game will be released on November 10, but it’s available now in beta.