The head of Italy's players union Damiano Tommasi has apparently advised gay footballers against coming out.
The former Roma and Italian international said players openly admitting their sexuality could lead to embarrassment and awkwardness and discouraged it.
Speaking on an Italian TV show with journalist Klaus Davi, Tommasi said that homosexuality was still a taboo in football, adding those who did reveal themselves would cause problems in the dressing room.
“The fact of being identified or singled out as 'the one who is', regardless of your profession, whether journalist, footballer or politician, I don't think it would be an advisable path to take,” said the president of the Italian Footballers' Association.
He added: “Expressing your personal sexuality is difficult in every professional environment and even more so for a footballer who shares a changing room with his team-mates, and hence also his intimacy with others. In our world it could cause embarrassment. In a sport in which you get undressed it could cause an extra difficulty in cohabitation.”
Tommasi said he had never met a gay footballer but denied that players are afraid of coming out.
“I don't think that people don't come out in football due to fear but rather that they don't do so for personal reasons. I don't think there's any need to express your sexual preferences in order to work or live in a civil manner with absolute tranquillity.
“In our environment anything that comes out that isn't on the straight and narrow becomes a boomerang. I personally never met any gay footballers but then again maybe I did without knowing their homosexual tendencies.”