Australian sport keen to follow the example set by the NBA.
AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said any player in the league who is gay and wanting to come out will have the full support of the code.
Demetriou’s comments come after Jason Collins became the first active American sportsman to declare he is homosexual, earning wide praise for his honesty and bravery considering the circumstances.
“It’s a strong step forward for acceptance,” Demetriou said.
“I would hope that that any Australian sportsman or woman, and particularly an AFL player, would feel equally comfortable and we would strongly support them, as would the wider football public.”
The issue of gay footballers in Australia is still a taboo subject, with only NRL star Ian Roberts to publicly declare he was gay in 1995.
No AFL player either during or after their career has taken the step to make their sexuality public, however, comments in the past by others have made it a more risky behaviour.
Outspoken former player Jason Akermanis made headlines in 2010 for comments made in an opinion piece telling gay players in the AFL to stay in the closet.
“If a player wants to out himself, then I say good luck,” Akermanis said.
“But I believe the world of AFL footy is not ready for it. To come out is unnecessary for a lot of reasons.
“Imagine the publicity associated with a current player admitting he’s gay. It would be international news and could break the fabric of a club.”
The former Brownlow medalist also said he has played with a gay teammate in lower grades of football, and while he had no problem with him on the field, in the realms of the change-room where nudity is often, he was uncomfortable.
But in the same breath Akermanis said he did understand the enormity of the decision to come out.
“Now try being the first AFL player to come out. That is too big a burden for any player,” Akermanis said.
“I know there are many who think a public AFL outing would break down homophobia, but they don’t live in football clubs. It’s not the job of the minority to make the environment safer. Not now, anyway.
“We have made massive steps in other areas of society and in time I hope the environment changes to a degree where coming out isn’t a big deal.”