Czech Republic international Jakub Jankto announced on Monday that he is gay, saying he wants to live his life “in freedom.”
Jankto, who plays for Sparta Prague on loan from LaLiga side Getafe, made his international debut in 2017.
The 27-year-old, who has 45 caps, is the highest profile current male footballer to publicly come out as gay.
"Like everybody else, I have my strengths. I have my weaknesses. I have a family. I have my friends,” Jankto said in a video posted to his social media. “I have a job which I have been doing it as best as I can, for years, with seriousness, professionalism and passion. Like everybody else, I also want to live my life in freedom. Without fears. Without prejudice. Without violence. BUT with love. I am homosexual and I no longer want to hide myself.”
Estamos muy orgullosos de ti, Jankto. ❤️"Quiero vivir mi vida en libertad. Soy homosexual y no quiero esconderme".
El jugador del Sparta Praga y perteneciente al Getafe anuncia en sus redes sociales que es gay.
➕ℹ️ https://t.co/yeWEEsOBDZ pic.twitter.com/3HuZvTjIpw
— Relevo (@relevo) February 13, 2023
Sparta Prague said Jankto "spoke openly about his sexual orientation with the club's management, coach and teammates some time ago. Everything else concerns his personal life."
World soccer's governing body FIFA, which was criticized for threatening to issue yellow cards to players wearing 'OneLove' armbands at the World Cup in protest over Qatar's laws against same-sex relationships, replied to Jankto's video by saying: "We're all with you, Jakub. Football is for everyone."
The English Premier League, Spain's LaLiga and European soccer governing body UEFA were among other football organizations to express support for Jankto.
Paris St Germain's Brazil forward Neymar said he was pleased to hear the news, telling reporters, "I have no prejudice and all forms of discrimination need to be reduced in all areas. Everyone should feel free and be able to be spontaneous with what they want to do."
In May last year, Blackpool forward Jake Daniels announced he is gay, while Australian Josh Cavallo came out as gay in 2021.
(Reporting by Aadi Nair; Editing by Ken Ferris)