Robbie Rogers comes out, quits soccer
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 22:02
Despite being surrounded by the late night all enveloping London fog, Robbie Rogers’ life finally became clear.
At 1 a.m. London time on February 15th, the former United States Men’s National Team, Columbus Crew, and Leeds United winger announced on his personal website that, “My secret is gone, I am a free man.”
Robbie Rogers announced that he was gay and would be walking away from the game he has played since he was four-and-a-half.
It took around 12-hours for the news to hit the United States, but the reverberations were felt around the world.
Bolton Wanders and fellow ex MLS’er Stuart Holden wrote on twitter, “Much love and respect to my boy @robbierogers! Proud to be your friend bro.”
Former New England Revolution striker and current ESPN television analyst Taylor Twellman wrote, “Fully support @robbierogers as he steps away from the game and comes out about being gay. #respect.”
RSC Anderlecht midfielder and fellow MLS 2008 Best XI player, Sacha Kljestan wrote, “100 percent love and support for one of my best friends Robbie Rogers. You will be missed on the pitch. Amazing talent, amazing person.”
Rogers career on the field has followed a similar path to many US soccer players. He was a member of the 2005 Maryland Terrapin National Championship wining side along with Maurice Edu, A.J. Delagarza and Graham Zusi. From there Rogers signed with Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie but never made a first team appearance.
From college standout to European nobody Rogers retuned to the US and found his niche when he joined the Columbus Crew.
With the Crew Rogers made over 100 appearances as a speedy winger, helping Columbus win 2008 MLS Cup and back-to-back Supporters Shields’ in 2008 and 2009.
2009 was also Rogers’ break out season with the USMNT, gaining nine caps and scoring against Grenada in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
After a disappointing 2011 season with the Crew, Rogers once again tried his hand with Europe, joining Championship side Leeds United. But Rogers second stint in Europe didn’t quite work out as he was constantly riddled with injuries and made just 13 appearances total in English football in one year.
After being released from Leeds during the January transfer window Rogers decided to come out as gay player and simultaneously retire from professional soccer.
Rogers’ announcement had implications not just in the soccer and sporting world but also in the political and social world as well.
Currently there are no openly gay athletes in any of the four major North American sports and Anton Hysén of the Swedish third division side Utsiktens BK is the only openly gay professional soccer player in Europe.
In the current social climate surrounding all aspects pertaining to LGBT rights and equality, perhaps the coming out of professional athletes like Rogers, politicians like the Prime Minister of Belgium Elio Di Rupo, and other famous people like Anderson Cooper can be beacons of hope for others and the catalysts for positive changes all over the world.