“I don't deny that I was delighted to read in the papers that I've become a sex symbol for both women and homosexual men.” Disproving the traditional image of the male footballer, Alberto Gilardino agreed to give gay.it an interview. He is thus the first professional footballer to consider the delicate subject of homosexuality in a gay newspaper. He speaks as a heterosexual, but without prejudice. He is happy to have become a symbol for the Italian gay community, who voted for him not only for his goals but also for his looks.
“Yes, I'm pleased, but I also realise that as people we are a focus of public interest and that our image is often overemphasised”, said the AC Milan striker. “The Italian team that played in Berlin really have won everyone over, irrespective of their political, religious or sexual orientation”. Yet in the world of football the road to equality of treatment is still a long one: “The ability of the footballer not to allow himself to be put under pressure by his choice or natural inclination is decisive. But it could be that society is not yet mature enough to respect the individual's decision.” A maturity that is also lacking when it comes to subjects such as the adoption of children by gay couples. Gilardino seems more optimistic as far as civil partnerships are concerned: “I base my view on a basic principle of our country, i.e. that we are all equal and all have the same rights and obligations. It is up to the government to come up with a solution by way of mediation. But I think it's going to be a long and difficult road.”
In conclusion Gilardino quotes Voltaire: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. This sentence corresponds to my way of thinking and lifestyle.” Coming as it does a few days after Manchester City opened themselves up to the city's gay community, this interview represents another small symbol of tolerance in the world of football.
(Source: Repubblica, 8 September 2006 – article by Mattia Chiusano)
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