Germany captain and Bayern Munich star Philipp Lahm has advised gay professional footballers against outing themselves, in an interview with German magazine Bunte.
"For someone who does, it would be very difficult," the 27-year-old defender said.
"An openly gay footballer would be exposed to abusive comments."
But Lahm insists he would feel comfortable playing alongside a gay teammate. "I have no problems with homosexuals whatsoever," he insisted.
Lahm's comments are likely to land him in hot water with the German Football Federation (DFB) - especially president Theo Zwanziger who has called for gay footballers to come out and promised the federation's help. "I would find it brave and would welcome it if a football player would come out," Zwanziger said in March. "He would had the support of the DFB and from me."
Lahm's sentiments are not shared by some of his national team-mates. Last November, Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez gave an interview where he urged gay footballers to come out of the closet.