My retweet finger was working overtime on Friday after Robbie Rogers came out thanks to the outpouring of support from his past teammates and competitors. But beyond the Twitter support on Friday there have also been wide ranging posts of encouragement from the Major League Soccer family.
The Columbus Crew, with whom Rogers spent the entirety of his MLS career, released a statement of support yesterday. Former captain Frankie Hejduk, who also played with now-out David Testo, said, “Robbie is and will always be a great friend, a great teammate and a great player to me. I’m fully supportive of anything he decides to do with his future. I wish him the best in the next chapter.”
Robbie Rogers’ current MLS rights are held by the Chicago Fire through a trade along with Dilly Duka for Dominic Oduro. On the Fire website Head Coach Frank Klopas said, “Yesterday I thought he was a very good player and I still think that today. Should Robbie want to return to the game, we would still be open to him being part of the Fire.”
The Colorado College Women’s soccer team is the latest group to produce a video for the You Can Play Project. It is the first You Can Play video to feature only a collegiate soccer team.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid coached Rogers to the 2008 MLS Cup with the Columbus Crew, and Brad Evans shared the midfield with Rogers at the Crew. Even Marc Burch, who was suspended last season for using a gay slur on the field, appears as he played with Rogers at the University of Maryland. This video from guys close to Robbie was especially touching for me to watch.
It appears that Robbie Rogers, alumnus of Leeds United, the Columbus Crew, and the US Men’s National Team, has come out.
From his website:
The Next Chapter…
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.
More as this develops…
The banner at the top of the Philadelphia Union website asks, “What do you stand for?” After seeing the club announce a Chick-Fil-A giveaway night this season, it’s a question I have for them.
I have been a Union fan since season one and a Sons of Ben member since season two. When I saw this news from the team I loved this morning, it hit me like an arrow to the heart. It hurt.
Donations from Chick-Fil-A’s charitable foundation to anti-LGBT groups is well documented, and became quite well known last year. Millions were given in 2010, including to an organization identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and to Exodus International, a psychologically damaging “pray the gay away” ministry.
Do I expect every MLS club to check the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index every time they enter into a partnership with a business? Of course not. But the troubling donations by Chick-Fil-A and subsequent backlash were headline news last year with people both protesting and supporting the chain. The Union should have easily known that they are a hot button that isn’t worth pressing.
We’ve covered troubling anti-gay legislation in Russia on this blog before as it is the 2018 World Cup host, but it’s also the 2014 Winter Olympics host and USA Today talked to Megan Rapinoe about the legislation as she was an out Olympian this past summer.
“I had my girlfriend with me in London,” said soccer player Megan Rapinoe, whose U.S. team won the Olympic gold medal last summer. “If I was just a gay fan going to Sochi, I don’t know. If the law passes, I would definitely be breaking the law. Hopefully it won’t deter gay athletes from being who they are.”
Sochi 2014 will likely break the trend of having a Pride House at the Olympics that was started in Vancouver and London because of these laws. Lady Gaga was threatened with prosecution and Madonna was sued under the anti-gay “propaganda” laws, and activists in Russia have even been arrested for simply wearing rainbow suspenders.
The message of the You Can Play Project is spreading fast, with St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, being the second college to release a video this week.
Defender Dylan Hughes and Goalkeeper Marc Gagnon both represent Men’s Soccer in the video.
The University of Cincinnati Bearcats are the latest collegiate entry to the You Can Play Project, and their video features a representative of both men’s and women’s soccer.
Midfielders Matt Bahner and Emily Elsbrock are both in the video put together by the school’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, stating that LGBT athletes are welcome on their teams that strive to eliminate homophobic language from sports. Go University of Cincinnati Bearcats!
Both DC United and Toronto FC of Major League Soccer have made videos for the You Can Play Project, whose mission is to ensure “equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.”
It’s No Name-Calling Week for GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), and Megan Rapinoe did a video for the group released by AOL for the occasion.
The USWNT, Seattle Reign, and Lyon midfielder talks about how biased language should not have a place on the field, in school, or anywhere else.
You can also tell GLSEN why you want to Change the Game with Megan Rapinoe and have a chance to with $500 in Nike goodies, soccer balls signed by Rapinoe, or GLSEN swag if your thoughts are used on their blog.
In addition to English, these players and coaching staff shared the You Can Play message in the languages from their home countries:
- Defender Richard Eckersley
- Goalkeeper Stefan Frei
- Midfielder Torsten Frings
- Forward Eric Hassli
- Goalkeeper Milos Kocic
- Head Coach Paul Mariner
- Defender Darren O’Dey
- Academy Director Thomas Rongen
- Midfielder Luis Silva
Toronto FC’s participation in You Can Play is a great testament to its commitment to the diversity of the city in which they play, and to all of the LGBT players, staff, and fans out there. Toronto also has a very special connection to You Can Play, with the Maple Leafs’ Brian Burke on the advisory board.
Thank you Toronto FC!