Former goalkeeper of Flamengo, Grêmio, Bahia and Vitória comes out as gay and is hailed by clubs

In the still so sexist universe of football, a former goalkeeper from major Brazilian clubs, such as Flamengo, Grêmio, Bahia and Vitória, gained the spotlight this Friday (18) for having publicly admitted that he is homosexual. Emerson, whose surname is Ferretti, played for the red-blacks of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia and for the tricolores of the same states from the late 1980s to 2007, winning important titles. He also played for América-RJ, América-RN, Ituano, Bragantino and Juventude.

To the podcast “In the Locker Rooms”, Emerson gave the following statement: “I stopped playing at 35, went to the end, played in several clubs. I know fame has taken a toll on me. I could even have been a lot more successful. I could have done a lot more than I did, I could have accomplished a lot more. I believe it is very positive (the career), mainly because I was able to face all this, to have survived until the end. The fact of being gay didn’t stop me, I went to the end. But I know of managers who didn’t hire me because I’m gay.”

The football player also spoke about the method adopted by many gay players who seek to hide in relation to their sexual orientation, cloistering themselves in heteronormative marriages, which, according to him, results in even more suffering.

“Of course there are gays in football, and many choose to get married. In this way, they protect themselves, they fit into a standard that is accepted. They protect themselves from the suspicion of being homosexual and then manage to survive. But normally, when you do that, you end up leading an unhappy life, making the other person unhappy. I chose not to marry. I chose not to deceive anyone, to face everything alone. Maybe that’s where the fame came, the comments, because I never got married”, said the former goalkeeper.

For Emerson, facing such a “problem” about his sexuality caused suffering, which was even more difficult when you have a profession in which the demands are very high and your performance is in front of everyone’s eyes.

“I suffered a lot. Several times I thought about giving up. I had depression, mainly because of loneliness. I had no one to share it with and it was a huge weight on my back. And at the same time I needed to deliver performance, because in football, if you don’t deliver performance, if you don’t play well, you lose your position, you lose contracts,” he said.

Finally, Emerson spoke about his victories and about the lesson and motivation he intends to leave for those who face the same situation.

“It is possible to be gay, an idol and win titles. You can be a talented player. You can be successful in football. I fulfilled my obligations with dignity. I was professional and delivered performance, this ends up motivating me to leave a legacy off the field as well. Talking about the subject, shedding light on the subject, will, for sure, first, break a little this silence that exists, because there has always been gay people in football. But no one talks, everyone ignores it, pretends they don’t have it”, he said hopefully.

On social media, two of his former clubs congratulated the goalkeeper and left messages honoring him.

“A great professional on and off the field! He started here, was Champion Gaucho (89/90) and the Copa do Brasil (94), and also made history in other clubs across Brazil. Now, again, he deserves applause and our support for the just fight against prejudice. For the right to love and live!”, wrote the official profile of Grêmio, from Porto Alegre.

“Maximum respect, Emerson. The club’s record holder of consecutive games is in the Idol Hall of the Bahia Museum, he is twice champion of the Northeast, best goalkeeper in Brazil in 2001 and now becomes another important voice in the fight against prejudice. Football, like life, has a place for everyone,” tweeted the Bahia profile.

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