A leading Australian National Rugby League (NRL) referee has come out the closet, becoming the only current openly-gay NRL official or player.
Matt Cecchin (38), who has a teenage son, decided to go public with his sexual orientation in an interview with The Telegraph.
He revealed that he first came to grips with his identity after he read retired gay rugby star Ian Roberts’ book Finding Out.
“Like a lot of people, I thought to be gay you had to be feminine, you had to go to nightclubs and you had to be in the scene and I was never into that,” Cecchin, who has been refereeing for 20 years, told The Telegraph.
“I played sport, I loved rugby league, I liked going to the pub with my mates. It wasn’t until I read Ian’s book that I started to tick a few boxes. In the early days when people found out, I would tell my mates to ask me every question they wanted answered.”
Although Cecchin has only now gone public, many in the NRL have known that he is gay for a number of years.
“I can honestly say I’ve never ever heard or been called anything to do with being gay on the field. I haven’t been treated any differently. I haven’t been treated as a token and I haven’t been discriminated against,” Cecchin said.
“I’d be very surprised if I was the only gay person in rugby league. I don’t know, but I respect people’s privacy. But me coming out has nothing to do with other people that may or may not be gay in rugby league.
“It has to do with the youth that are growing up today that may be going through a whole world of hurt and fear.”
In 1995, Australian international player Ian Roberts became first rugby footballer in the world to come out to the public as gay. He retired from ruby in 1998 and became an actor.