American Major League Soccer gained its first openly gay player when the Los Angeles Galaxy welcomed Robbie Roberts to the team at a press conference Saturday afternoon, reports NBC Los Angeles.
Rogers is an American soccer player who played several years in Europe before coming out as gay and simultaneously retiring from the sport in February. But on Saturday, he signed an agreement to join the L.A. Galaxy, making him the first openly gay male professional footballer in the MLS, confirms OutSports.
Rogers, 26, was training with the Galaxy this month, but had yet to confirm that he would formally re-enter the sport. "I don't know what I was so afraid of," Rogers told the Associated Press Friday. "It's been such a positive experience for me. The one thing I've learned from all of this is being gay is not that big of a deal to people."
He told USA Today he was inspired to step back onto the pitch after speaking to a group of young people at the Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum in Portland last month.
"I seriously felt like a coward," Rogers told USA Today Sports. "These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I'm 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?"
Rogers announced that he was gay and retiring from the sport on his website in February, saying that he was ready to "discover myself away from football." Rogers played in the MLS in the U.S. for five seasons, where he started 18 games and scored two goals. He then went on to play for the English Premier League's Leeds United until he was released in January.
Major-league basketball has recently seen prominent players come out in both the men's and women's leagues. Brittney Griner was drafted into the WNBA as the top draft pick for the Phoenix Mercury just days before confirming that she is openly gay in April. Jason Collins, an NBA center and free agent who played for the Washington Wizards last season, came out as a gay man in a moving op-ed published in Sports Illustrated later that same month.
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