Credit: Marcus Urban

Marcus Urban

Co-Founder Diversero, Managing Director Association for Diversity in Sport and Society, Systemic Coach, Speaker, Ex Professional Footballer

“Better enjoy who you are and be proud of where you come from. Don't throw your life away for 90 minutes, it takes 90 years."

Who are you and what are you doing?

Hey, I’m Marcus – one of the protagonists of the book “Catching Hate Offside” and one of the founders of Diversero.

I became known through the publication of my autobiography “Versteckspieler” (Blaschke / Urban 2008), as the first outed professional soccer player in Germany. Second in the world, after Justin Fashanu in England’s Premier League.

I grew up in the former GDR and studied at the Bauhaus University Weimar and the Universitá Federico II Napoli, lived in Weimar, Erfurt, Milan, Hamburg and Berlin.

I have traveled the world, worked as a graduate engineer, as a designer, as a marketing assistant for artists with disabilities and was able to gain a lot of other work and life experiences.

With the many children, young people and adults who contacted me and wanted to get involved, I founded the Association for Diversity in Sport and Society in 2014, which has been doing successful educational and public relations work for a diverse and cosmopolitan society ever since manager I am.

In addition to this, I help many people, organizations and companies as a diversity consultant and systemic coach in Germany and worldwide – partly because I have been through a lot myself.

What is your personal experience with discrimination and exclusion?

As a five-year-old child, I looked after the same image of men as I do today. But when I first heard “gay pig” and “fag” in school, my natural behavior shifted to love.

I started hiding and pretending to be straight – 24/7 at the physical education school where I became a professional soccer player.

As a youth national player and shortly before jumping into the Bundesliga, I had been in depression for many years and I was wondering every day whether I should go on living like this at all.

That’s why I understand others who have been or are doing the same thing, who are being bullied for their looks, their age, their skin color, their gender, disabilities, illnesses, beliefs or whatever.

It was actually quite simple, but nobody had taught me how to do it. i’m ok, you’re ok Diversity is a wonderful thing.

I went to Naples for an exchange degree in 1993, hoping to experience something new and exciting.

Italy gave and showed me a new life. But with that came a mega-crisis, because I was afraid of real freedom and didn’t know how to live it.

Back in Weimar in 1994, I had my coming-out with the city’s lifeguard, who all the women liked 🙂

I plucked up all my courage and told a teammate from SC 1903 Weimar that I like men. He has always supported and interested me. We have remained friends to this day.

What is your inspiration you would like to share?

From the book “Catching Hate Offside: The A to Z of racism and other forms of discrimination in football”

“It makes no sense to fight only against homophobia, because fear and violence are like seven-headed dragons. If you hit a head, the next one grows up, in the form of racism or sexism.

Therefore, one must aim in the middle, reach the hearts and minds of the people, and this only works with authenticity and courage.”

Where is your favorite place in the world and why?

I have a favorite café in every city I stay in for a long time – for example in Berlin, Weimar, Milan or Hamburg.

Just as others go to the forest to relax, I sit in a café, have a drink, read, write, talk, laugh, observe and relax.

Naples is the place of my rebirth. At the age of 23 I went to study in southern Italy and this lively city showed me that you can live and celebrate emotions. I looked out over the Gulf of Naples, the islands of Ischia, Capri and Procida, the sea, the bouncing waves and enjoyed the scent of the lemons and the water.

For the first time I felt lightness. Well, I was very depressed at the time, but now I knew: life can also be beautiful and funny.”

What was the funniest moment in your life?

Whenever my best friend had to sing in music class, he made mistakes in the lyrics and sang himself. There were hilarious mistakes and wrong tones.

Since we had to laugh about everything anyway, we constantly got fits of laughter. The tense silence in the music lesson increased the compulsion to have to laugh – you can’t go as far as that.