Soccer, FIFA’s first gay referee: “Many LGBTQ+ people in the soccer world”

Palmeiras x Bahia SÃO PAULO, SP – 11.08.2019: PALMEIRAS X BAHIA – ? Igor Junio Benevenuto de Oliveira during a match between Palmeiras x Bahia, valid for the 14th round of the 2019 Brazilian Championship, held at Estßdio Allianz Parque, in São Paulo, SP. (Photo: Marco Galvão/Fotoarena) x1777421x PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxBRA MarcoxGalvão

I have always considered soccer a sport for heterosexuals. However, about 40 percent are part of the LGBTQ+ community

Brazilian-born Igor Benevenuto is FIFA‘s first openly gay soccer referee, and to the German magazine Der Spiegel, he spoke about a good chunk of the soccer world being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

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”Between 30 and 40 percent of them are homosexual or bisexual or have done something with another man.”

And also that ”you would be surprised to know who is homosexual in this industry.” So not only soccer players but also many insiders orbit the soccer galaxy.

The first gay referee, Benevenuto, shared aspects of his private life on the podcast ‘Nos Armàrios Dos Vestiàrios’.

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”Soccer was for men, and from an early age, I knew I was gay… There was no more perfect place to hide my sexuality.”

Being Brazilian, Igor Benevenuto also spoke about the situation in his country, and how homosexuality is viewed.

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”In Brazil, they saw homosexuality as an illness similar to alcoholism, which can be overcome,” and then that ”I believed in it for years. I suffered from depression and went through dark periods… I don’t expect the situation to change completely during my lifetime. But I can still be a drop in the ocean of change.”

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