BERLIN (Reuters) - Homosexual professional footballers should not come out because the repercussions could be too devastating, according to Germany captain Philipp Lahm.
"I would not advise any gay professional footballer to come out," Lahm wrote in his autobiography 'The Subtle Difference'.
"I would fear that he could end up like Justin Fashanu who after he outed himself was driven into such a corner that he ended up committing suicide," the 27-year-old Bayern Munich captain added.
Lahm said, however, that he personally would have no problems if a player decided to come out.
"I have nothing against homosexuals and I do not consider homosexuality as something reprehensible," he said.
Fashanu is the only player to have announced he was homosexual during his professional career.
He played for several clubs, including Norwich City, Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, and, after abuse from the terraces, killed himself in 1998 aged 37.
A study of football professionals, coaches and referees conducted in Britain last year showed there was still a culture of secrecy surrounding gay players with more than one in four people polled saying they knew homosexual footballers.
Lahm's autobiography, in which he criticises past coaches and players, has angered German soccer officials and the national team coach Joachim Loew, who has called a meeting with the player.