Bravo to German soccer player Mario Gomez for encouraging gay soccer players to come out publicly. It would help their careers, the 25-year-old says in an interview with Die Zeit.

They would then play as though they’d been unshackled,” Gomez told magazine Bunte. “Being gay hasn’t been a taboo topic for a while.”

It’s an open secret that there are homosexual footballers in Germany’s Bundesliga, according to Die Zeit, but there are no openly gay players.

“We have a gay Vice Chancellor, the Berlin mayor is gay,” Gomez said, referring to Guido Westerwelle and Klaus Wowereit. “So football professionals should also acknowledge their preference.”

Two other German players, in separate interviews in recent months, said that being an openly gay soccer player would be very difficult. And a gender studies professor said on German radio this week that she knew of fake heterosexual marriages arranged for gay players and that there was even an agency to handle such things.

Until an active player comes out, we’ll never know whether Gomez or the naysayers are right. It is refreshing, though, to see a star player come out so publicly on an issue that jocks normally run away from lest they be tainted with the gay label.