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Players Will Now Come Out As Gay In Football Manager 2018 Video Game

Leave it to video games to try to push forward a change in attitude toward tolerance and acceptance. Football Manager 2018, the latest installment of the preeminent soccer simulator, will feature openly gay players who come out over the course of the game. 

Despite this being 2017, few professional soccer players have been comfortable enough to come out as gay while playing. The creators of Football Manager, Sports Interactive, said they put the feature in because it’s clear there are gay footballers and they may be scared to come out because of the stigma that still exists in the sports world. 

“I find it weird that it’s still a problem in football so we decided to try and show people that coming out isn't a big deal and can be a positive thing,” game director Miles Jacobson said. “I just think it’s crazy that in 2017 we are in a world where people can't be themselves.”

Football Manager 2018 will come out on November 10 and Sports Interactive wasn’t planning to announce the feature before then because the idea was to show how normal it should be to come out as gay. However, when word got out, the developers spoke in detail about the addition. 

Football Manager gay players

Football Manager 2018. Photo: @londongaymers | Twitter

When a player comes out, it won’t be a real-life player but instead one of the so-called “newgens,” who are computer generated to keep the game moving along as older players retire and new players move in (players of the game typically play careers that last for decades, not years). If a player on your team comes out, you’ll receive an email in your in-game inbox notifying you. You’ll then be told from your commercial director that you’ll receive a boost in revenue due to fans from the LGBT community supporting your club. 

And that’s it. Nothing else happens when a player comes out as gay because nothing should happen. Quality of play doesn’t change, no one asks for a transfer and the team continues on with no negative consequences. It’s a bold statement. 

One would hope that the world will one day be as progressive as Football Manager suggests, despite evidence to the contrary. Few players at the top levels in England have come out and none of them were British. American Robbie Rogers, who played for Leeds United, came out after leaving the game, though he eventually returned and now plays for the L.A. Galaxy. Germany’s Thomas Hitzlsperger, who played for three EPL clubs, came out months after retiring. 

Jacobson told BBC that having gay players will be a rare occurrence and in some cases impossible. Players will not be able to come out if they play in a country that outlaws homosexuality (yes, that is still a thing in 2017). 

The introduction of gay players to Football Manager 2018 is already drawing comparisons to a controversial addition to last year’s game: Brexit. In Football Manager 2017, playthroughs of the game could include soft or hard versions of Brexit that would affect transfers for players and teams from the United Kingdom. 

“It helped us realize we can be a bit more outward in our thinking in trying to make the world a better place,” Jacobson said. 

Football Manager is by no means the only video game trying to make a statement in an increasingly politicized world. The new Wolfenstein II game does not shy away from its representation of Nazis as evil and has drawn ire from alt-right people who apparently never got the message that no one who claims to represent a Nazi is ever on the right side. 

Likewise, no one who judges someone based on that person's sexuality is ever on the right side. Inclusivity is important (except including Nazis) and the developers of Football Manager 2018 understand that. Sports Interactive hopes this small addition to a big game will increase tolerance toward homosexuality in the football-playing world. 

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