The 30-year-old midfielder considers the atmosphere that is hostile towards other sexual orientations could put kids away from enjoying the game.

Sampdoria and Sweden midfielder Albin Ekdal has voiced his frustration that players are still reluctant to come out as homosexual in today’s football world.

Ekdal has spoken out on lots of occasions on the need to make the sport more welcoming and pointed out that the more inclusive atmosphere appreciated in women’s football as a good example to follow.

And speaking at a discussion organised by the European Parliament, he repeated his call for diverse sexual orientations to be respected.

“In an ideal world nobody would feel uncomfortable saying they are homosexual, in their routine life or in football,” Ekdal told the Sport and Homophobia: a Game to Win conference.

“Unfortunately, in real life it’s different. In our sport, only eight players have ever come out, a very small number.”

“Many would love to but they do not feel free to do so for fear of negative reactions. It’s an atmosphere where there’s a lot of homophobia and these players are fearful of becoming the object of insults and abuse, on and off the pitch.”

Ekdal continued by calling football authorities to step up their efforts in order to end the perceived stigma against homosexual players.

“We must fight against this problem, using education as a force for good,” he added.

“What sort of society are we if a young boy can’t pursue his dream of becoming a footballer due to his sexual orientation?”

“Every time a child hangs up his boots and stops playing since he is not accepted by the dressing room, his team and those around him, it’s a defeat for the football world. Being gay doesn’t define you as an individual, only to whom you’re attracted.”

“Each of us is a part of the human race and we have a shared passion: we love soccer and that is most important for each of us.”

Ekdal started his career with Brommapojkarna in his native Sweden and has gone on to represent the likes of Juventus, Hamburg, Bologna, and Cagliari as well as creating a half-century of appearances for the national team.