Gary Lineker claims to know two Premier League footballers who are gay and says it would be "amazing" if they chose to come out during the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
There have been concerns over Qatar's suitability to host the World Cup, which gets underway on November 20, ever since the country was awarded the right to host the tournament back in 2010.
Qatar's human rights record, including its treatment of the LGBTQ community and migrant workers, has been criticised.
Male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence in Qatar, while same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government.
Lineker says he knows of two professional footballers who have been "very close" to coming out and believes it would send a powerful message if they chose to do so amid the backdrop of the World Cup.
He told The Mirror: "It would be great if one or two of them came out during the World Cup. It would be amazing.
"I know for a fact that some have been very close and contemplated it. There's a couple I know, but obviously it's not for me to say who they are."
Earlier this year, Blackpool forward Jake Daniels became the UK's first active male professional footballer to come out publicly as gay.
It came after Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo announced he was gay in October of last year, at the time becoming the world's only openly gay professional footballer.
When asked why he thought more footballers, including the two knew of, had not come out as gay, Lineker added: "Fear. Fear of the unknown, I imagine.
"Perhaps they are worried about what their teammates might think, although they probably already know. I mean, it seems insane that it should even be a thing.
"People say, 'Yeah, but the crowds.' And I say, 'Well the crowds chant anyway'. Any kind of abuse you take is a compliment from the opposing fans."
But he also admitted: "You're always going to get a few idiots. But it's easy for me to say because I'm not in that position."
England captain Harry Kane has already promised to wear a OneLove armband featuring a rainbow flag during World Cup matches, even if it is prohibited by FIFA.
And Lineker says he and the BBC will not shy away from covering the issue of Qatar's poor human rights record during their coverage of the tournament.
"I'm sure we'll do it on the first night. Obviously we're not going to do it in every buildup to every game, but of course we'll talk about it and openly," he said.
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