All Rights reserved
Soccer star Robbie Rogers was reportedly subjected to homophobic abuse during a Saturday game, in which he was repeatedly called "queer" by a member of the opposing team.
Rogers, the first out gay player in Major League Soccer history, was making his return to the L.A. Galaxy after over two months on the disabled list. In June, the 29-year-old suffered a serious ankle injury that required arthroscopic surgery. The injury caused him to miss the Galaxy's annual Pride Night, which is held June 22.
Although he claims he's never been subjected to antigay bias since coming out in February 2012, he posted on Instagram that his return to the team -- playing with the L.A. Galaxy II, its reserve squad -- was bittersweet.
"To be honest, my initial reaction was one of shock," Rogers wrote of the incident.
"I went to bed upset last night," he continued. "Angry at this player and and his ignorance. Angry at myself for not doing more in the moment. Sad [that] we still live in a time where this kind of intolerance still exists in my sport and elsewhere. And if I'm being honest, I was even a bit ashamed that a single word could make me feel, even just for a moment, all the awful feelings I felt for so many years: small, less than, wrong, and unworthy of love and respect by my family or god forbid by my teammates."
Despite the disturbing incident, Rogers said that he is grateful for the support he has received from teammates, opposing players, and the league.
"I'm thankful for the many players on my team and even the opposing one who apologized to me for one man's actions," he stated. "Today, I woke up grateful to work in organization filled with so many players and coaches who have worked hard to practice tolerance of everyone and to help change a culture."
Rogers, a former Leeds, England, player who came to the U.S. following his coming-out, maintained that he doesn't regret his decision to be honest about his sexuality. At the time of writing, he remains the only out male player active in a major American team sport.
"I am proud more than ever that I had the courage to come out as a queer man," Rogers said. "I feel so fortunate to have gotten to share my story with others and to have gotten to play this sport I love so much as an openly gay person. I am, more than ever, thankful to have teammates and a family that love and support me for the son, brother, partner, father and queer player that I am."
The gay footballer also took the opportunity to urge others to come out -- and help him change professional athletics for the better.
"I'm encouraging, as I did when I came out four years ago, all athletes to find the courage within themselves to come out," Rogers wrote. "Listen, only you know when and how it's best for you to live your truth and share your story, but each one of you that chooses to make this courageous step is not just vastly improving your own life but literally saving others."
Matt Hatzke, a former player for the San Jose Earthquakes who came out after his retirement, thanked Rogers for his courage in a response to his post on Instagram.
"Powerful," he said. "Pure class. Proud. But there is still progress to be made."
Hatzke is right. The vile treatment Rogers experienced coincides with a series of hate-filled tweets from Andre Gray, a striker for Burley in the U.K., that resurfaced over the weekend. In the 2012 posts, the 25-year-old asks, "Is it just me or are there gays everywhere?" He proceeds to tell LGBT people to "burn" and "die." The player has since apologized.
In addition, FIFA was recently forced to take action after fans from seven national teams -- including Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Peru -- reportedly used homophobic chants during the qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup.
MLS stated in a press release that the league is currently investigating the Rogers incident, adding that there is "zero tolerance for homophobia" in U.S. soccer.
From our Sponsors
Trending Stories & News
For more news and videos on advocatechannel.com, click here.