USA international Robbie Rogers comes out as gay, quits football | inside World Soccer

USA international Robbie Rogers comes out as gay, quits football

Saturday, February 16, 2013

USA midfielder Robbie Rogers has publicly announced that he is gay and revealed that he is stepping away from football aged 25.

Robbie Rogers poses with a female fan during his spell with Stevenage
Robbie Rogers poses with a female fan during his spell with Stevenage

Photo: @robbierogers

Rogers made the announcement in a moving post entitled "The Next Chapter..." on his personal blog on Friday.

Things are never what they seem… My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today's society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose.

For the past 25 year I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams.

Dreams of going to a World Cup, dreams of The Olympics, dreams of making my family proud. What would life be without these dreams? Could I live a life without them?

Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.

Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.

I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.

Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football. It's 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.

Within moments of Rogers' announcement spreading, a horde of players voiced their encouragement.

The FA has also offered their official support of Rogers.

Darren Bailey, the FA's Director of Football Governance and Regulation, said: "Following the announcement by Robbie Rogers on Friday, The FA is trying to make contact with him offering our support.

"Whether Robbie stays in the game or steps away for a break he has our full backing."

While not a huge star, openly gay footballers are still very rare, and Rogers is the biggest to have come out in a long while.

The California-born player made his name in Major League Soccer with Columbus Crew and was part of the USA team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Rogers, capped 18 times by his country, recently played for Championship side Leeds United before his release from Elland Road last month and also had a brief a loan spell at Stevenage.

Only two other footballers have publicly said they are gay, despite a number of high-profile male and female homosexual athletes from other sports openly discussing their sexuality in recent years.

In 1990, former England U-21 international Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to reveal he was gay. He took his own life eight years later, aged 37.

Swedish lower league player Anton Hysén publicly announced his homosexuality in an interview with a football magazine in 2011.

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