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Patrice Evra believes there are at least two gay players at every football club but says his former team-mates were afraid to come out due to homophobic attitudes in the dressing room.
Former Manchester United defender Evra, who also had spells at Monaco, Juventus, Marseille and West Ham, has said he encountered shocking attitudes towards homosexuality during his playing career.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien to coincide with the release of his autobiography, Evra said: “When I was in England, they brought someone to talk to the team about homosexuality.
“Some of my colleagues said ‘it is against my religion, if there is a homosexual in this locker room, let him leave the club’ and other comments.
“At that time, I said, ‘shut up’. I played with players who were gay. Face to face, they opened up with me because they are afraid to speak otherwise.
“There are at least two players per club who are gay. But in the world of football, if you say so, it's over.”
There are currently no openly gay players in the Premier League but efforts have been to make English football more inclusive through the Rainbow Laces campaign.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been a vocal supporter of the campaign and says he is proud to be seen as an “ally” of the LGBTQ+ community.
"I really love Rainbow Laces, every year when it happens," Klopp told Sky Sports News.
"I'm a perfect example for it - how the awareness level changes from the moment you put them in."
He added: "I'm 54, I've been through a lot of periods in my life but a lot of problems I've never had.
"I have so many gay friends but I never thought about how it was when they had to say, 'by the way, mum, dad' - and to everyone else - 'I'm not exactly how you expected, maybe'.
"That's a challenge we shouldn't face, in the way we face it in our life. So I'm completely in. It's a great campaign, I have to say, and it looks good!"
Earlier this month, the world’s only openly gay professional footballer, Josh Cavallo, suffered homophobic abuse while playing for Australian side Adelaide United against Melbourne Victory.
Cavallo issued a defiant response on Instagram the day after the match, which read: “I'm not going to pretend that I didn't see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night.
“There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was. This shouldn't be acceptable and we need to do more to hold people accountable.
“I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.”
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