Spain's First Openly Gay Soccer Referee Has Quit Over Abuse And Heckling
"[It] hurts me more than anyone."
This is Jesús Tomillero Benavente, a soccer referee in Spain. He made history in March when he came out as gay in an interview with El Español, making him the first out gay referee in Spain.
The announcement alienated him within the Andaluz Football Federation and made him the target of homophobic slurs on the field.
Now, just two months after publicly coming out, Tomillero tells El Español he is leaving the sport he loves because the anti-gay insults have become too much.
The final straw was what unfolded during a game on Saturday when people began hurling homophobic insults at the 21-year-old referee.
Tomillero told El Español that when he called a penalty during a game between Portuense and San Fernando Isleño he was met with horrible abuse.
"That's the faggot referee who was on television!" yelled one of the people in the crowd.
"You can stick that goal up your ass, faggot shit," yelled someone on the visiting team.
Tomillero told the Spanish paper that he has become used to homophobic remarks and insults since publicly disclosing his sexuality. But what affected him the most is "that the whole audience laughed," he said.
On Saturday, he tweeted a screenshot of a formal complaint filed with the Andaluza Football Federation.
He told El Español he submitted his formal resignation to the Federation because he "can't take any more insults."
The Andaluz Football Federation did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
A referee since he was 11-years-old, Tomillero said the decision to leave soccer "hurts me more than anyone."
He said the San Fernando game delegation plans to testify on behalf of his claims.