Getafe loanee and Sparta Prague midfielder Jakub Jankto made headlines last month when he became the first openly homosexual footballer in top level European football, following on from Ben Daniels at Blackpool, and Josh Cavallo of Adelaide United. A month on, Jankto has told Marca that he has been enjoying life since.
Jankto made the announcement public, and has since received plenty of support from around the world, as well as from Sparta Prague. He did admit that football was homophobic thereafter, but says things have been going well.
“I’m very well. It was a hard three weeks, especially the first one, because I didn’t know what to expect. But the reactions were perfect in the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy… That no doubt helps you to continue, to live and to be focused on football, which is what comes first for me. Football first. Then I can focus on other things.”
He was asked if he felt that he should have done so sooner, but Jankto had no issues with the timing.
“It was at the moment when I felt it. I haven’t been thinking all my life about coming out. I have played normally for eight years. I don’t know what happened, but there are certain things you want to say. You want to live how you want to live. I said it the moment I felt it like it.”
While much of the reaction to Jankto’s announcement has been positive, it is little surprise that he has received stick both online from opposition fans. Yet Jankto was clear that he was ready for the criticism.
“Of course I’m ready. I don’t know what can happen in the future, but I hope it will be a good example for everyone. In some places, maybe, you find people who can’t stand it, but I respect everyone. Maybe if I were living in Spain I wouldn’t say it, but when you’re at home… I don’t know what happened, but in my mind there was a moment when I said: ‘You are going to say that you are homosexual and you can live as you want’.”
“Sure, you have friends, family, your son here… When you’re at home it’s easier to say that. I was playing seven years in Italy and one year in Spain, but being at home helps you a lot.”
The 27-year-old put it more down to the comfort he felt being at home rather than anything he experienced in Madrid with Getafe or in Italy with Udinese and Sampdoria.
“There are many homophobic countries, but I don’t think Spain is. In Italy, the Czech Republic or Spain it is easier than in, for example, Asia, Africa or Qatar. It’s easier and it helps you.”
There was plenty of controversy over the lack of LGBTQIA+ rights in Qatar as the World Cup was hosted, but Jankto did not see it as an issue.
“That doesn’t interest me much because, as a player, what I want is to be on the field. When these issues are discussed there is controversy, but I am not a person who can decide what is done. There are just different cultures and I respect them. When I go to Qatar I respect all the rules, so when I’m here I expect people to respect the rules. In my opinion, everything is a matter of respect. You have to have respect for the people where you are.”