Marcus Urban in 2011
4 August 1971|
Weimar, East Germany
|Other names||Marcus Schneider|
|Occupation||Diversity adviser; life coach|
|Organization||FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt; Verein für Vielfalt in Sport und Gesellschaft|
|Known for||Football player; spokesperson for LGBT issues|
Marcus Urban (born 4 August 1971, earlier Marcus Schneider) is a former German soccer player. He played with the East German national youth football team and in the second division club Rot-Weiß Erfurt in the 1980s and early 1990s. Several years afterwards he came out as a gay man. He has spoken publicly about the difficulties that gay footballers experience, and he is now a spokesperson and campaigner on diversity issues in sport and the workplace.
As a child, he took on his step-father's surname, Schneider, but as an adult he changed it back to his mother's maiden name.
In 2008 the sports journalist Ronny Blaschke published an authorised biography of Urban. This is titled Versteckspieler: Die Geschichte des schwulen Fußballers Marcus Urban ('Hidden Player: the story of the gay footballer Marcus Urban')
Urban was born and grew up in the city of Weimar, which was then in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). From 1984, when he was 13, until 1991 he attended a boarding sports school in the nearby city of Erfurt, support by the 2nd division Bundesliga club FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt (Erfurt city football club; Red and White are the club colours). Such schools were widely used in the former Eastern bloc countries. He trained with East German world sports champions and olympic medal winners. He played for the East German national youth football team from 1986 to 1989, moving through each age class.
In 1990 he was given an amateur contract to play for Rot-Weiß Erfurt. He played against future players of the German national team such as Bernd Schneider, Thomas Linke, Steffen Freund and Frank Rost. He was about to become a professional football player, but in 1991 he decided to quit due to the pressure of having to hide his homosexuality from the football world.
In 1991 he began studies in urban and regional planning at Bauhaus-Universität in Weimar, graduating in 2000 with a Masters degree in engineering, specialising in renewable energy. During this time he spent a semester at Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II in Naples. He undertook his civil service year in 1997, working for an organisation that provided special therapies for disabled children based on theatre, music and art.
Urban came out to family and friends in 1994, but it was not until 13 years later, in 2007, that he publicly came out in an interview with the newspaper Welt am Sonntag in which he spoke about the difficulties of gay football players. A year later, his biography was published. Grand Hotel Pictures, a Berlin film production company, started developing a film based on the book in 2009, but as at July 2017, nothing had been released.
Today he is an adviser on diversity issues and also works as a life coach with individuals and organisations, specialising in the areas of self-confidence, diversity and intercultural skills. He makes appearances on TV, radio and in print media, discussing his experiences as a gay man in sport, and his work in this area. Urban advises the Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund, (German Olympic Sports Confederation) and the Sports Committee of the German Federal Parliament, as well as businesses and non-profit institutions.
Urban is on the management team of the Verein für Vielfalt in Sport und Gesellschaft ('Association for Diversity in Sport and Business'). In March 2010 he co-founded the diversity expertise network Fußball für Vielfalt ('Football for Diversity'), originally called Fußball gegen Homophobie. This is a project of the Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld ('Federal Foundation of Magnus Hirschfield'), an organisation that aims to carry on the work of the pioneering social scientist Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935), researching LGBT issues and seeking to prevent social discrimination against the LGBT community in Germany.
- Beasley, Neil (2016) Football's Coming Out: Life as a Gay Fan and Player. [London]: Floodlit Dreams Ltd. ISBN 978-0992658564
- Blaschke, Ronny (2008) Versteckspieler: Die Geschichte des schwulen Fußballers Marcus Urban. Göttingen: Verlag Die Werkstatt. ISBN 978-3895336119
- Leibfried, Dirk; Erb, Andreas (2011) Das Schweigen der Männer: Homosexualität im deutschen Fußball. Göttingen: Verlag Die Werkstatt. ISBN 978-3895338151
- Magrath, Rory (2016) Inclusive Masculinities in Contemporary Football: Men in the Beautiful Game. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 978-1138653610
- Rohlwing, Christoph(2015) Homosexualität im deutschen Profifußball: Schwulenfreie Zone Fußballplatz?. Baden-Baden: Tectum-Verlag. ISBN 978-3828835962
- Walther-Ahrens, Tanja (2011) Seitenwechsel: Coming-Out im Fußball. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus. ISBN 978-3579066998
- Bogena, Kai-niels (11 November 2007) Schwule Fußballer haben Angst in Welt N24. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
- Marcus Urban website. Retrieved 17 July 2017
- Kirbach, Roland (21 June 2007) Schwulsein heute - ganz normal? in Die Zeit. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
- Blaschke, Ronny (2008) Versteckspieler: Die Geschichte des schwulen Fußballers Marcus Urban. Göttingen: Verlag Die Werkstatt
- Schall, Tobias (3 November 2008) Ich dachte: als Kicker ist man nicht schwul in Stuttgarter Zeitung (archived 9 November 2012). Retrieved 16 July 2017.
- Ehrlich, Betting; Schirmer, Lisa (12 May 2017) Fußball-Star Marcus Urban im Thüringen Talk Schluss mit den Versteckspielen on Antenne Thüringen website. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
- German gay footballer to get biopic treatment in Pink News, 9 February 2009.Retrieved 16 July 2017.
- DOSB Expertinnen-Datenbank. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
- "Homophobie ist im Sport noch stark ausgeprägt". Deutscher Bundestag Dokument, 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2017
- Verein für Vielfalt in Sport und Gesellschaft. Retrieved 18 July 2017
- Fußball für Vielfalt website. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
- The story of Marcus Urban, a gay soccer player in DDR (YouTube 8:00 min) (An Italian Television report, in Italian)