Oliver Egger

Footballer, Teacher, Ombudsman for the ÖFB ombudsman's office "Football for all" against sexual discrimination and homophobia

"In the end, I developed a 'fucking go for it' mentality. I didn't want to hide for a second longer. I wanted to live my life in a self-determined way and be happy. The desire to be happy was stronger than the fear of risk."

Who are you? What do you do?

My name is Oliver Egger and I was born on November 15, 1992. I started my soccer career at FC Gratkorn before playing for the Sturm Graz youth team. Since 2012, I’ve been playing for Gratkorn again in the Styrian Oberliga Mitte as a right-back.

In addition to soccer, I teach German and history and work as an ombudsman at the ÖFB ombudsman’s office “Football for All” to combat sexual discrimination and homophobia.

In 2016, I was the first footballer in Austria to come out as homosexual.

What is your personal experience of a life crisis and how did you overcome it?

It’s a gay pass. You play like a gay man. You hear that a lot. These words are not only degrading, they also hurt. When I came out publicly as gay three years ago, I often found myself alone. During the breaks in our games, the comments were sometimes so direct that I had to take action. 

Our coach at the time once said: “You two at the back, you’re going at it like two warm men, and we’re going to concede a goal like that because of you.” That was the last straw. I spoke to the coach and he apologized. These incidents highlight the need to promote a culture of respect in teams and clubs. 

It is important that all team members create an environment where no one has to hide or feel inferior because of their sexual orientation. Being confronted with situations like this has taught me to stand up for myself and make a change. 

I have learned to openly challenge discriminatory language, not only to protect my own dignity, but also to set an example for others who may experience similar challenges.

What is your inspiration?

“You need to have balls” is something you often hear in soccer, a sport characterized by ritualized masculinity. This attitude has always bothered me. When I introduced my boyfriend at the time to my team at a birthday party without making a fuss, I made a statement. I learned that my homosexuality and my masculinity are not mutually exclusive. 

My goal is for homosexuality to be seen as normal in soccer and in society. I am fighting for no one to have to experience what I went through and for everyone to have the right to be themselves without fear. 

It is my wish that future generations of footballers grow up in an environment where their sexual orientation is seen as a normal part of their identity without having to fear discrimination or rejection. 

Through my commitment as an ombudsman and through my own example, I want to contribute to a culture in which diversity and acceptance are celebrated.

Where is your favorite place in the world and why? What do you believe in?

My favorite place at the moment is our apartment in Graz. Because I have to say that I really like being at home and really appreciate quiet moments and I just feel comfortable here. I’m a cozy person and enjoy reading a good book. 

I’ve been an atheist since I was young and I don’t believe. 

What was a special moment in your life and what did you experience with your partner?

A special moment in my life was of course my coming out to my friends and family. Since that moment, I have finally been able to lead a free and self-determined life and the game of hiding finally came to an end.

In our almost six-year relationship, we have of course experienced a lot and I have to admit that he makes me laugh the most, especially with his quick wit. We simply enjoy our togetherness very much and treat each other with a great deal of understanding and ease.