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BERLIN -- A former World Cup player from Germany came out as gay on Wednesday, rebuking the Russian anti-gay law that threatens to tarnish next months Sochi Olympics and challenging the longstanding stigma against homosexuality in football. Authentic Markieff Morris Jersey . With his announcement, Thomas Hitzlsperger became the biggest name in football to declare he is gay. He said he wants to help break down the prejudice against homosexuality that has long permeated the macho, testosterone-fueled culture of the worlds most popular sport. "I am expressing my sexuality because I want to promote the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes," Hitzlsperger said in the German newspaper Die Zeit, a statement that was widely welcomed by his countrymen and former teammates. His disclosure came less than a month before the start of the Winter Games in Sochi, which have been the focus of a furious backlash in the West against a recently enacted Russian law banning gay "propaganda." The Olympics "are ahead of us, and I think we need some critical voices to counter the campaigns by various governments against homosexuality," Hitzlsperger said. Before retiring from the game four months ago, the 31-year-old former midfielder played in Englands Premier League and in Germany as well as Italy. He is the first German player to come out and the first from the Premier League. The fact that Hitzlsperger waited until his career was over to make the announcement reflected the persistent taboo in the game, where many players are reluctant to discuss homosexuality because they fear the reaction of teammates and fans. Hitzlsperger said he felt the time was right to broach a subject that was "simply ignored." "I get particularly annoyed by the fact that people who know the least are precisely the people to talk the loudest about this issue," he added, noting that the word "gay" is commonly used as a slur against footballers. At many football grounds, sexually themed chants are not uncommon. Fans in Britain sometimes chant songs that are viewed as religiously, sexually or racially offensive. In many European countries, especially in Russia and Eastern Europe, thousands of fans chant obscene songs, defying all attempts to stop them. Hitzlsperger said his own record shattered the idea that gays are "sissies." "I was a pretty tough guy with an extremely strong shot. Thats not something many can claim," he said. "My nickname is The Hammer. Its complete nonsense that gay men are unmanly." In England, outspoken Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton praised Hitzlsperger for his "courage" but lamented that he had to wait until now to make his announcement. "Sad times when people have to wait until they retire from their chosen profession before they feel other people will judge them solely on who the human being is," Barton said on Twitter. "Shame on all of us as a society." Hitzlsperger said he grew up in a small community in Catholic-dominated Bavaria, where homosexuality was treated as something unnatural or even criminal. He had a long-term relationship with a girlfriend and planned to marry her. "But then after eight years, the relationship ended without my partner knowing about my feelings for men. That was six years ago," Hitzlsperger said. "Only in the last few years did it dawn on me that I would rather live with a man." Hitzlsperger represented Germany at the 2006 World Cup and 2008 European Championship. He played for Bayern Munichs youth teams before switching to English club Aston Villa in 2001. He later played for Stuttgart, Italian club Lazio, West Ham, Wolfsburg and then Everton in the Premier League. "Homosexuality is not a serious issue in England, Germany or Italy, not in the dressing room in any case," said Hitzlsperger, who made 52 appearances for Germanys national team from 2004 to 2010. "Thats why its not easy to find anyone in the football scene who will talk publicly about his sexual orientation. To this day, I dont know any footballer personally who has made this an issue. "I was never ashamed of how I am," said Hitzlsperger, adding that the behaviour of some of his teammates was sometimes hard to take. "Think about it. There are 20 young men sitting around a table drinking. You let most of it go, as long as the jokes are halfway funny and the rubbish about homosexuals is not hugely offensive." Last February, American player Robbie Rogers declared he was gay before announcing his retirement. He returned to action with the Los Angeles Galaxy after an overwhelmingly positive reaction to his declaration. Former English player Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest, was the first footballer to say openly that he was gay in 1990. He committed suicide eight years later at age 37. Swedish defender Anton Hysen came out in 2011. Athletes from other sports have also spoken about their sexuality. Last month, British Olympic diver Tom Daley said he was in a relationship with a man. Other high-profile gay athletes include former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas, English cricketer Steven Davies and former NBA players Jason Collins and John Amaechi. On Twitter, German forward Lukas Podolski welcomed his former international teammates announcement, calling it "brave and right" and "an important sign in our time." Another former international teammate, Arne Friedrich, tweeted, "Im proud of you. Good decision and at the right time in my opinion." Government spokesman Steffen Seibert praised Hitzlspergers announcement on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel. "We judge footballers by whether they conduct themselves well and with dignity on and off the pitch, and I believe both are true for Mr. Hitzlsperger," Seibert said. German football federation president Wolfgang Niersbach said Hitzlsperger "was always an example for whom I had the highest respect, and this respect is even greater now." Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said players were unaware of Hitzlspergers sexuality until after his retirement, when the player informed both him and Germany coach Joachim Loew. Said Bierhoff: "Well give him every support so he can continue on his courageous path." Loew hoped Hitzlspergers "announcement helps us all to be more relaxed about this issue." Authentic John Wall Jersey . On the day after Billy Horschel posted his 12th straight round in the 60s, won his second straight tournament against a world-class field and picked up an additional $10 million bonus as the FedEx Cup champion, Watson was kicking back in his seat at a Kansas City Royals game. Authentic Juwan Howard Jersey . Hattestad managed to avoid the carnage midway through the mens final, as a crash took out three skiers, essentially leaving two men vying for gold. The Norwegian posted a time of 3:38.39, outlasting Swedens Teodor Peterson, who took silver with a time of 3:39.LONDON -- In another twist to this unpredictable English Premier League season, bottom side Sunderland damaged Chelseas title hopes with a shock 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. After surprise defeats to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace in recent weeks, Chelsea again stuttered against weaker opposition, as Jose Mourinhos 77-match unbeaten home run as Chelsea boss came to an end in a major boost for league leader Liverpool. Chelsea could not hold onto its lead after Samuel Etoo opened the scoring, as Connor Wickham levelled from a rebound six minutes later following Marcos Alonsos long-range effort. Fabio Borini then scored from the spot after Cesar Azpilicueta brought down Jozy Altidore in the box with eight minutes remaining. Elsewhere, Crystal Palace claimed a fifth consecutive win with a 1-0 defeat of West Ham to secure its place in the topflight next season, and Swansea secured a vital 2-1 win at Newcastle that piled more pressure on Magpies manager Alan Pardew. Peter Whittinghams second-half penalty gave Cardiff a precious point in a 1-1 draw against Stoke, and Aston Villa could record only a goalless home draw with Southampton. Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone made 14 saves as Chelsea blew the opportunity to dislodge Liverpool from top spot. The Reds will have the chance to extend their lead to five points at Norwich on Sunday. After holding Manchester City to a draw midweek, Gus Poyets players were again the party-poopers. The Black Cats took four points from their last two games and are just three points from safety. "With Sunderland this year, anything can happen," said Poyet, a former Chelsea player. With three matches to go and a potential title decider at Anfield next weekend, Mourinhos side cant afford any more slip-ups in its quest for a fourth Premier League crown. After Etoo put Chelsea in front, Schwarzer --who replaced Petr Cech after the Czech keeper was ruled out by a virus -- could only parry Alonsos effort away and the ball came back straight to Wickham, who made no mistake from the rebound. Chelsea players showed their frustration and midfielder Ramires hit Sebastian Larsson in the face with an elbow before Altidore went down under Azpilicuetas challenge. Juwan Howard Jersey. On-loan Liverpool player Borini kept his head cool to score the resulting penalty "When I went to take the penalty I thought goal. Thats why we take penalties, because youre confident," Borini said. "We showed great character and belief." Mourinho and his staff were not happy with the referee after the penalty decision and assistant coach Rui Faria was sent to the stands. Mourinho had to drag Faria away from fourth official Phil Dowd as the hosts protests turned bitter. "His performance was unbelievable and when referees have unbelievable performances its fair to congratulate them," Mourinho said ironically about referee Mike Dean. "He came here with one objective, the objective to make a fantastic performance and he did that." Against Newcastle, Swansea striker Wilfried Bony scored twice to take his goal tally for the season in all competitions to 22 as his team moved six points above the relegation zone with three matches left. Newcastle remained in ninth place despite its calamitous run of five consecutive losses but fans are showing increasing anger, with growing calls for Pardew to step down as manager. In Cardiff, Whittinghams 50th-minute goal cancelled out Marko Arnautovics penalty -- the first spot-kick Cardiff has conceded this season -- that was converted during the dying seconds of an otherwise forgettable first half. Cardiff remains stuck in the relegation zone, two points adrift of possible safety. With its fifth consecutive league win -- a feat it did not achieve since December 1992 -- Palace is mathematically safe from relegation. But included in that streak is a 3-0 win at Cardiff on April 5, a match which is the subject of a league investigation: The Welsh club claims Palace obtained its lineup before the game. Tottenham kept its small hopes of a top-four finish alive and dented Fulhams survival ambitions with a 3-1 win over its London rival. Spurs are four points behind fourth-place Arsenal, though the Gunners have played one game less. Cheap NFL Jerseys nfl jerseys china ' ' '
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    lineup before the game.
    BERLIN -- A former World Cup player from Germany came out as gay on Wednesday, rebuking the Russian anti-gay law that threatens to tarnish next months...