It is in an interview with Glåmdalen on Monday night that the referee profile tells about his own orientation and thoughts about Sunday’s episode in the Eliteserien.
– I feel that the time is ripe, and I can not imagine that it will be anything other than positive for me, Hagen says to the local newspaper.
– I do not want this to be angled as if I stand out as gay. For me, it has always been a completely natural part of life. You ask me if I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I have not. I have been with girls and have not announced it to anyone. The same has been natural when I had a male partner, he adds.
On Sunday, the 42-year-old, who for several years has been among Norway’s most profiled referees, was the match leader in the settlement where Kristiansund player Flamur Kastrati called Vålerenga coach Dag-Eilev Fagermo “a sweeper”.
– It is the pinnacle of irony that it is exactly me who judges that match, Hagen says to Glåmdalen.
Gauseth: – Judge performance of the year
There are very few in top-level men’s football, both in Norway and internationally, who have stood out as gay. It is, on the contrary, something that has been in demand for years. On social media, the tributes by Hagen are countless on Monday night, and Mjøndalen player Christian Gauseth is one of those who rejoices over the referee’s openness.
– I think this is raw, what he is doing. Those who know me know that this is probably the first time I say something like that about a judge, and I think this is this year’s judge achievement, simple and straightforward, Gauseth says to NRK.
– It sends a signal that football is for everyone, and that despite the fact that there have been some troubled weeks with a lot of negative things, there can still be the right people in the right place and do smart things. It is a very nice and strong signal he sends by being open about this, says Gauseth.
– How do you think this will be for him in the future?
– I guess there will be some positive feedback this week, so there will probably be something negative as well. But he is prepared for that. So I hope everything just gets completely normal eventually. We will be open to everything, and now we get a test. Can we handle this in a good way and just welcome him? And then we move on. I hope this means that players also emerge eventually, says Gauseth.
There are no openly gay players in Norwegian men’s football at the top level, nor any other referees. RBK profile Pål André Helland also hopes that this case can inspire.
– First and foremost, it’s just to congratulate. I hope he becomes a pioneer. There have been some stupid statements, but it hopefully drowns in all the joy and positivity he receives. I hope it can be an inspiration for more people, says Helland.
The attacking player points out that there may be several in the football community who keep their position hidden for fear of what it may cost to be open.
– Purely statistically, there should be more people burning inside with it. Hopefully, now that there is a profiled person in football, more people can join that train. For, at least in my head, it should be a matter of course that this is natural. You do not know who you fall in love with, says Helland.
Former Brann player and NRK expert Carl Erik Torp hopes Hagen’s openness can mark a shift.
– I think things like this spread to society in general. It is being written about everywhere and is a big topic of conversation now. There are many who can feel a little reassured that someone like him is leading the way. We are in a phase where difference is normalized, and it is a great period. Norway is far ahead, so we go in the breeze there too. But there are dark numbers, and there are probably some who give up the dream as well, says Torp.
– A rolemodel
Chief Justice Terje Hauge says that he has been aware of Hagen’s orientation for many years, and says he expects the whole thing to be well received when he is to judge again.
– When he now stands up, I think it only gives positive ripple effects, both to the refereeing staff, but also to top football in general and men’s football in particular. He is a role model, says Hauge.
On Monday, it was also announced that Kristiansund has banned Kastrati pending an internal review of the case. The Norwegian Football Association has also announced that it may be relevant to proceed with the case.
Hagen did not accept Kastrati’s statements in the heat of the match, but says he does not want to judge the Kristiansund player, who has said that he did not know what the word sweep means. Kastrati has also apologized and said that he is very sorry.
Hagen has refereed in the Elite Series since 2006.