Alexander and Pavel who set the world alight with their 'intimate' pictures, have denied they are gay. Social networks went crazy in January after after pictures of them kissing, cuddling and sharing a bath with a male friend went viral. Could this, at last, be the beginning of big gay outings in soccer, the world wondered?
Pavel Mamayev, 24, a midfielder for CSKA Moscow, and Alexander Kokorin, 21, a striker from FC Dynamo Moscow, were thought to be in a relationship after the ‘intimate’ photographs surfaced. On VK, the Eastern-European social network equivalent to Facebook, Kokorin posted one of the pictures, saying ‘I love him’.
Other snaps include the two hugging, sharing dinner and going to a basketball game together.
Opinions were split with one VK user saying the players should immediately be dropped from the teams. Another said: ‘They play well so just leave them alone. Their private lives should remain private.’ Neither of the players had commented on the holiday pictures, with only Kokorin continuing to upload photographs from their visit to the USA on Twitter.
The pictures came a week after a top fan club for St Petersburg’s football team Zenith said they do not want black, South American or gay players. Publishing the manifesto on their website, they said: ‘We are not racists, but the absence of black or gay players in the Zenith lineup is an important tradition that underlines the identity of the club, and nothing more.’ Gayness remains a hot issue in Russia with the authorities keen to suppress any move towards liberalisation.
Worldwide, as discussed before on Lustralboy, the only two footballers to ever come out as gay have been Anton Hysén and Justin Fashanu. Hysén used to play in Sweden’s lower leagues until he came out and became a celebrity. He then went on to win the country’s version of Dancing With The Stars. Fashanu was the first, and only, English footballer to come out in 1990. Eight years later, he committed suicide.
Lustralboy says: As ever, we welcome any signs that the homophobia common in so many dressing rooms might be receding or, at least, be challenged. We have no idea whether Alexander and Pavel are gay. If they are, great and good luck. If not, at least the furore around the pictures will have done no harm and might even encourage some more long-awaited gay outings from the deeply closeted world of soccer.
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