I suppose it affects their sponsorship deals too much, they are the main source of a professional's income after all. Gareth Thomas, an international rugby player, is now a motivational speaker and gives a lot of interviews. He has had a lot of public support.
I was reading in the Guardian earlier today, that Martina Navratilova came out once she got American citizenship, and felt she'd be able to speak her mind more freely than in her home country. She didn't realise how much it would alter her sponsorship deals and meant that companies backed away from her. (This was in the 1980's though).
I think sponsors and advertisers nowadays realise and respect the power of the 'pink pound'. If they don't, they are sadly misguided. I suspect any gay footballers stay in the closet because they fear the reaction of the more neanderthal fans.
I have seen somewhere that homophobia is the fear that gay men will treat you like you treat your significant other. Maybe there's some truth in that. One homophobic man I used to know hated the fact that his XW had moved on and tried to control her life after their marriage ended. That I think he's a massive idiot goes without saying.
Some sports seem to be the last bastion of 'redblooded maleness' and thrive on their outdated sexist standards.
This is probably a bit of a generalisation: but in cricket and rugby, there are a lot more players with degrees and a better standard of education. In football there aren't that many players that have completed all of their schooling. The attitudes within the team are possibly a bit more reactionary if the players don't have much experience of any other people other than those that like to go out, get drunk and get off with models / aspiring actresses. Not that those with degrees don't like doing that too! But they'll possibly read the odd book here and there too.
I agree with your 'pink pound' comment. I wonder why sports advertisers aren't always looking for new revenue sources.
I heard about this as I support a team he played for.
What I can't believe is he's the first professional footballer in the UK to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990 There must be gay footballers out there, it's just obviously still not an accepting career