Modern elite male British football is still waiting for its first openly gay player. Maybe Football Manager can help.
In this year’s edition of the computer game, players come out.
“Part of the reason we decided to do this is because there are gay footballers,” Miles Jacobson, the game’s director, told BBC Sport.
“We know from the amount of professionals that there has to be players who are gay but feel they don’t want to come out.
“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.
“I just think it’s crazy that in 2017 we are in a world where people can’t be themselves.”
So how does it work?
We’re not talking about real-life players. Instead it’s the fictional, computer-generated youngsters who appear as others retire, refreshing the game’s database at the end of each virtual season.
Those who know their Football Manager call these fictional players ‘newgens’. Without them, the simulation could not progress – as it does – into the next century and beyond.
Jacobson said they were “able to do things with these players that we can’t with real players, because they can’t sue us”.
He explained that, if one of these players at your club comes out, you’ll find out from a news item in your in-game inbox.
Soon after, your commercial director will inform you of a boost in the club’s revenue, in part due to new attention from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Thomas Hitzlsperger became the first openly gay man to have played in the English Premier League when he came out in 2014 – four months after he retired.
The former Germany midfielder, who played for Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham, said he “could not imagine playing football and doing this at the same time”.