Koke was part of the Atlético Madrid team that cruised to the Europa League title with a 3-0 victory over Marseille on Wednesday evening. Before taking to the pitch in Lyon, he sat down with Icon to discuss an issue that runs beneath the surface of football: the absence of openly gay players.
"People have more respect for homosexuality"
Antoine Griezmann suggested last year that footballers don’t come out of the closet out of fear, and Koke agreed that it could be the case.
“Perhaps nobody has come out because there aren’t gay players, or because they don’t feel brave enough to come out due to what people will say,” he said.
“I think that people have more and more respect for homosexuality and equality in society. A footballer being homosexual shouldn’t have any influence when it comes to taking to the pitch.”
Koke was asked if he would have any problem coming out as gay publically. “To be honest, I don’t know.
“I would have to be in that situation and as I’m not, I can’t say. But in principle, no. You are who you are and you have to accept yourself for that. I wouldn’t have a problem coming out as gay, I think.
Have no players come out because the powers that be in football fear the public would not accept them? “I don’t know about that. As it has never happened and hasn’t been seen in Spain, I couldn’t say. It would be a shock if a player were to come out of the closet in Spain because it would be the first time that it had happened, but as there are more cases, it will become normalised.”
The 26-year-old initially denied having called Cristiano Ronaldo a “faggot” during a match against Real Madrid, but conceded when challenged with the video evidence.
“Well, these are things that happen on the pitch and stay on the pitch,” he said. “I never usually talk about what happens on the pitch, not about what people say to me nor what I say. You say a lot of things without thinking on the pitch.”
"Men and women are equal"
Koke also addressed the matter of gender equality. “I’m in favour of equality. Men and women are equal and a woman can do the same job as a man perfectly well.” He is due to marry his long-term partner, English teacher Beatriz Espejel, at the end of May.
The Atlético midfielder, who named Gabi as the team-mate he is closest to, was robbed at gunpoint in an underground carpark in April 2017. “The first thing I thought was that it was a fan who wanted a photo,” Koke said, as he retrieved his ticket from the machine. “When I looked up he pointed the pistol at me and told me to give him my watch.”
“I didn’t think about doing anything. The only thing that I thought was to give him the watch he was asking for.”