German team to fly rainbow flag, 'making mark' against homophobia
July 12, 2013 -- Updated 0751 GMT (1551 HKT)
In a game last season, St. Pauli fans unfurled a banner and showed their support for members of the gay community.
- German team St. Pauli to fly rainbow flag in recognition of the gay community
- American Robbie Rogers was the first openly gay male athlete to play in a U.S. pro match
- Rogers returned to soccer after retiring and announcing he was gay in February
(CNN) -- Germany's St. Pauli plans on further supporting the gay community by permanently flying the rainbow flag -- which symbolizes gay pride -- at its stadium from this season.
"The club has been active for many years against homophobia and discrimination," St. Pauli's vice-president Gernot Stenger told the club website. "With this flag we are giving this highly visible sign that these issues have great importance at St. Pauli and we are working hard on them."
A member of the club's gay and lesbian fan club, Dirk Brullau, backed the initiative and said it would be a "quantum leap for the football world" if a Bundesliga team followed suit.
Hamburg's St. Pauli, which enjoys a cult following due to the skull and crossbones shown on the flag of its supporters, plays in Germany's second tier.
Its move comes less than two months after American Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a U.S. professional match.
Read: Rogers makes Galaxy debut
April 2013: Rogers on why he came out
Soccer star: Gay but lived stereotype
Rogers: Couldn't play soccer as openly gay
Rogers initially retired from soccer in February, announcing he was gay.
He unretired and signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS, making his debut in late May.
Jason Collins, a pro basketball player who announced he was gay in April, tweeted Rogers good luck.
"People are just really growing and accepting and loving," Rogers said earlier in May. "Those other things are just not that important to them.
"I think as the younger get older and the generations come and go, I think times are just becoming more accepting."
But for now no soccer player from the Bundesliga or one of the other elite divisions in Europe has come out as gay, with German international teammates Mario Gomez and Tim Wiese seemingly taking different views on whether they should.
Read: The Secret Footballer on homophobia
Three years ago, Gomez urged gay players to go public.
Wiese, however, said they would be "destroyed" by "merciless fans," the Guardian reported.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year said gay footballers shouldn't be worried about revealing their sexuality.
"Anyone who sums up the strength and bravery should know that they live in a land where they have nothing to fear," said Merkel.
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
After a miserable Champions League defeat to Olympiakos, CNN's John Sinnott wonders if Manchester United is officially in trouble.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
CNN's David Ford analyzes the changing face of Manchester City since Barcelona's last visit to the English club 11 years ago.
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1449 GMT (2249 HKT)
A ruling that Polish fans will not face legal action after anti-Semitic chanting sparks debate over whether it signals acceptance of such attacks.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
If FIFA really cared about gay rights, why did it give the World Cup to a country where homosexuality is illegal, asks CNN's James Masters.
CNN's Alex Thomas takes a brave punt on the 2014 champion ahead of Friday's World Cup draw.
Today's five most popular stories