Czech international footballer Jakub Jankto said on Thursday his coming out as gay earlier this week was “definitely a relief”.
The 27-year-old Getafe winger, on loan at Czech top-flight side Sparta Prague, became the first active international player to announce he was gay on Monday.
“It was a tough decision but looking back I’m really happy I made it,” Jankto told the public Czech Radio.
“Now I can finally live the way I want and that’s what matters most. It was definitely a relief,” he added in his first interview since coming out in an emotional video on social media.
“I want to give an example to others, to show you can keep doing your job. And I think I have given a very positive example.”
Jankto, who has a three-year-old son with his ex-girlfriend, said he had first told his family that he was gay and then came out to his best friend a year and a half ago.
“Then I said it in the locker room a few months ago. My teammates’ reaction was fantastic, they took it in stride,” he added.
Only a handful of top players have publicly come out as gay while still playing, including Josh Cavallo from Adelaide United in October 2021 and Jake Daniels at English side Blackpool in May 2022.
Jankto’s announcement sparked a wave of support on social media, including from FIFA and UEFA and top clubs from Arsenal to FC Barcelona.
“The reaction was huge, incredible, fantastic,” said Jankto.
“This made it much easier for me.”
But he added he was ready for negative responses when he returns to the pitch as Sparta faces Jablonec in the Czech league on Sunday.
“It would be naive to think I can steer clear of that. If someone feels the urge, it’s OK but I definitely won’t react. The football environment is obviously a bit homophobic, there are a few hundred hooligans associated with each team who will have none of this,” said Jankto.
“But it’s also due to the fact that we don’t have a history of positive examples showing that your sexual orientation does not make a difference.”
Jankto said he expected the negative reactions to wane with time, and that in the end players will not have to make similar statements.
“I hope we’ll get there as early as possible and it will be much easier for these guys than it was for me.”
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