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MLS- Columbus Crew

Robbie Rogers comes out, steps away from pro soccer at 25

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

Robbie Rogers is retiring stepping away from the game of soccer at the age of 25. Not because of an injury, but because he is embarking on a new chapter in his life after making the decision announce that he is gay.

The former U.S. National Team player and Columbus Crew midfielder came out in a letter written on his official website.

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.

Rogers left MLS for England after the 2011 season and spent two years with Leeds United, where he played sparingly. He only recently had his MLS rights traded from the Columbus Crew to the Chicago Fire, but he has now announced his retirement as a player.

A member of the Crew’s 2008 MLS Cup-winning team, Rogers made 18 appearances with the U.S. Men’s National Team, scoring two goals, including a winner against Mexico in 2011 in Jurgen Klinsmann’s head coaching debut with the U.S.

What do you think of the news? Impressed with Rogers’ courage to come out? Disappointed that he is retiring stepping away from the game? Hopeful that he returns to pro soccer soon?

Share your thoughts below.

268 comments
  • TomG

    Hope he comes back and plays in MLS. It would be good for the sport to have an openly gay player (are there currently any in MLS?) and NYRB could sure use a left wing!

    Like

  • Wilson

    Was fortunate to have coached Robbie on a youth National team and the kid is first class.

    Good luck Robbie!

    Like

  • Turd Bradley

    Good for him having the courage to come out. I respect that 100%. However, its not like he did or will ever set the world on fire. My eyes always told me he was never good enough for international plY and seemed like ussf was trying to convince themselves they had made a legitimate investment in him every time he was selected.

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    • Joe

      I think Portland, Seattle or RSL would be best in that they are markets who have led the way in gay rights. I will credit an above poster, I did not know SLC had such a great reputation with being pro gay rights. Awesome!

      Oh, and I am white, 29, straight and I want him on my Timbers – I must be immoral right?;-)

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      • Harry

        you’re both forgetting that the MLS doesn’t operate that way. Chicago owns his rights. Only Chicago can sign the player unless they trade his rights.

        Robbie is not coming back to MLS.

        Like

  • BFT

    Very, very proud of him. Really, really wish he wasn’t retiring. Hopefully “stepping away” means it isn’t necessarily permanent.

    Like

  • Sean

    Way to go, Robbie! Good for you.

    I can guess that there may be pressures (based on your experience and decision) that few of us can understand but I’m a soccer and MLS fan who’d enjoy it if (and wishes that) you choose to keep playing!

    Best wishes in everything:)

    Like

  • Cairo

    Now a big fan of Robbie Rogers. That took guts and I hope he comes back someday if he wants to. MLS fans are probably going to handle this better than most, but let’s not kid ourselves either. This is courageous

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  • Beckster

    As the parent of a gay collegiate athlete, I applaud Robbie’s courage and hope he comes back to the sport. He is a fine left winger and it would be nice for men’s soccer to follow in women’s soccer’s footsteps in having openly gay athletes participate at the highest levels of the sport. I believe soccer fans in the US are classier than other sports and it would be nice to take the lead in being accepting of gay athletes.

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  • gay pride texas 915

    So thought the toughest sport was football NFL and now we have MLS soccers coming out….now what NFL. The toughest thing to do is to come out and say your gay. Kudos to Robbie and this should only help MLS by showing the U.S. that MLS is the sport of the future in the states and that MLS will accept homosexuals in the stands and on the pitch. Robbie should not retire and in reality i know a lot gay people who like soccer because its a real sport where you run and think and not like the NFL or NBA. MLS should keep him and grow from this because NFL and NBA fans are mostly tough and anti homosexual. Only if becks was still in MLS because Becks would have his back in a snap and the whole world would stop for the MLS.

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    • Joe

      I wouldn’t go knocking on the NBA and NFL for not running man, their stamina is tested in terms of running into 6’3″ 230lbs of cut muscle running, at the worst, 4.6 40 yd dash. And the linemen may be “fat” but they are just ridiculously strong.

      I agree with the homophobia, but I am not going to be a bigger or lesser fan because of a preponderance of evidence that suggests most of the players and/or fans are jackasses. If that was the case, I think this country would have been summarily liquidated LONG ago, haha.

      Samos Timbers!

      Like

  • Good luck, Robbie

    Good luck, Robbie. That takes a lot of courage to do that. I wasn’t a big fan of his as an international player for USMNT, but he certainly was a solid MLS player. I’m a little surprised that he’s stepping away from his MLS career. I’m sure he could have had a lengthy and accomplished pro career at this level.

    I can’t imagine the difficulties he’d face if he returned to pro soccer, but I’d love to see Robbie and MLS lead the way in having an openly gay player on the pitch. Maybe other players, clubs, and leagues would follow suit.

    Like

  • WorldCitizen

    The homophobic bigotry that has long marred competitive team sports is perhaps more muted than it once was, but unfortunately it remains fairly pervasive. I look forward to the day when athletes like Robbie or Dave Testo are accepted for who they are by the vast majority of their fellow professionals. That said, it’s disappointing to see this news, because more than anything, it feels like yet another victory for the bigots.

    Like

  • beachbum

    All the best to Robbie and hope he finds happiness, and hope he can return to the game if it’s what he wants. Nothing but respect.

    Like

  • Tom

    Good luck to Robbie. But to all of you professing your high-minded tolerance here, I cry foul. I guarantee there is not a single one of you that didn’t think to yourselves, “Oh, no wonder he was so soft”, or some variation thereof. And then you probably admonished yourselves accordingly, and switched gears to “nothing wrong with that, everyone should come out”. See, the thing no one wants to admit is, no matter how accepting you are, there are still these little stereotypes hidden deep in the corners of your minds. Society’s attitudes have indeed shifted, which is awesome, but those undercurrents are still there and aren’t going away. While you’re bashing the guy above who made the gay joke, take a moment and admit to yourself that you probably thought it too, you were just too tactful to say it. Pretending it doesn’t exist or people are somehow wrong for having those associations is not helpful, though. Not to Robbie or anyone else who is gay, because they know we’re not being completely honest. How can you be comfortable in those conditions?

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      • Tom

        I agree. What is problematic is when we have them, but indignantly refuse to admit we have them. It’s dishonest to them.

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    • Joe

      Wait, doesn’t being tactful also show that we must be morally higher than the original poster ? Because I was led to believe that if we didn’t accept it we would have a higher morality….hmmmmmm. Methinks you are saying that you echo what he thought but aren’t man enough to come out and express a solid opinion without flying in the face of proven. empirical evidence.

      Chew on this one: I believe in a God-like figure (gender and race tbd) and evolution both being right. Mind….wait for it….splosion.

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    • Joe

      Alright, after all the talk above and getting fired up, I laughed out loud. Begrudgingly, I thusly reward you a +1 and a -1. You are awarded no points and may God have mercy on your soul. Knibb High football rules.

      Like

  • Brett

    Now that he’s out, I don’t think a locker room would be able to get over the possibility they were being ogled by a gay man. It’s sad, but it’s the reality.

    Good luck in your future endeavors, Robbie.

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    • patrick

      as noted on twitter, many, if not all of his Columbus teammates were aware, and unless there was a secret shower room just for him, it didnt appear to be a problem for any of them

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    • THomas

      Just because he’s gay doesn’t mean he wants to hook up with every one of his teammates. Think about a local gym. By pure numbers, a lot of guys in that locker room are likley gay. Has it ever been an issue for you? I can say it hasn’t been for me. So unless they suffer from homophobia, being in a locker room with a gay guy, shouldn’t be an issue.

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      • THomas

        And I probably used the wrong word when I said ‘suffer’ form homophobia, but you get the idea.

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      • Brett

        Truly it boils down to how the individual person acts. I’m sure there were times in my life when I was around a gay dude in a locker room or gym and never knew it. Had I known there was someone being aroused by me without my knowing, I would feel a little violated. I think most people would. I’m not saying just because someone is gay they go mush-brained for everyone of the same gender, but the possibility is there based on primal sexual attraction. Could you say you could be a heterosexual male in a locker room of nude lesbians (some attractive, some not) and not be aroused by at least one of them? You could then see their reason for feeling upset, yes? I have also been made very uncomfortable by an older, gay man at a gym. I don’t attribute that to his being gay, but to his personality. He was polite about it when I told him I didn’t like being touched while I lift.

        It’s not in my nature to waste time and energy wondering about peoples’ sexual preferences. Certainly I notice things like effeminate or otherwise flamboyant men, but I try to not assume sexual orientation based on that alone.

        My point was that now that he’s out, I don’t think he’s going to find total acceptance. That makes me sad, but it’s what I see in the state of the world today. Someone mentioned the Crew locker room and how they knew about it. Yes, they did, but without him being totally out I am not sure there wasn’t some onus on keeping it ‘hush-hush’, even if only for one or two teammates who were known homophobes.

        Like

  • Eric

    ” Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.”

    Quite an indicment of religion and how it ruins people

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    • Joamiq

      You might want to read that again. It’s clearly an indictment of the people who taught him their version of religion, not religion itself. The last line of his statement is: “My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.”

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      • Old School

        I understand where Eric’s coming from and he may have misspoken but I 100% agree with your:

        “You might want to read that again. It’s clearly an indictment of the people who taught him their version of religion, not religion itself.”

        Well said.

        Like

    • boosted335

      Don’t be naive, religion is only 1 of MANY channels your worldview can become poisoned through.

      Like

      • Northzax

        Speaking of tolerance, who are you to say that someone is misinterpreting their religion. The Old Testament, a holy book for billions of people (Jews, Christians, Muslims) is pretty clear about homosexual acts being an abomination. The top 13 religions by members in the US condemn homosexuals. You have to go all the way to 14, the Episcopal Church, to find a church that welcomes homosexuals. And frankly (while I am sympathetic, it’s not really supported by scripture.

        I’d say that means the problem (and it is a problem) lies with religion, not the interpretation. Of course, I was raised Unitarian, so we have our own problems. And I (just to demonstrate my bons fides here) didn’t show up to get my Eagle Scout badge when my six year troop leader was banned for being gay. If Mr. Matthews couldn’t pin it on me, I didn’t want it.

        Like

  • boosted335

    While wishing him well on to the next stages of self discovery I cant escape the fact that I didn’t ask and don’t care* who he sleeps with.

    *so long as they’re 18+ and consenting

    Like

  • Citizen

    Good for Robbie, but I just want to say this, as much as homosexuals and others have been abused by fans and others alike, it does not compare to what I’ve seen happen to minority players. As long as they don’t come out and say it, there used to be no problems, however, a black player (like Jozy for instance) would suffer just for being thr color he is, called bad names or the target of violence such as burned alive and tied up to the back of a pick up truck and dragged through the streets. Those are extreme cases, but it still shows that we have a long way to go as a society, and I hope players like Jozy and Robbie can play without any sort of hate directed towards them in the future.

    Like

  • Harry

    if he does come back I doubt he’d want to deal with MLS.

    from his twitter account last week:

    Just read my “rights” were traded to Chicago… Love how the MLS works, pretty funny. #rightlessinthemls

    Like

  • JG

    Not surprising seeibg that he always played like a girl with the USMT anyways. Always seemed like his mind wasn’t on the game. Probably wasn’t. He should still play. He could change in the girls bathroom or something.

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    • phillypride

      Since being gay means having to put up with a lifetime of BS from people like you, I’ve found that gay people tend to be tougher than average, not weaker. And, “played like a girl”!?!? Way to insult women and gay people in one short phrase. What are you so afraid of?

      Like

  • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original

    I think it takes a ton of courage to come out, period. Add to that being a pro athlete and it is beyond courageous. Unlike the small-mided “JG” who posted before me and hides behind initials, scared to give his own name. C’mon JG. Be a “Man”. Come out of your closet of hate. In any event – much respect Robbie.

    Hey Ives, I know how Journo’s often know this kind of thing before the public, sometimes for years. Did you?

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  • Ty

    I hope everyone feels sorry for him and we all wear purple laces to raise money for his disease.

    I can’t believe that this is even a story. Who cares. The fact that he’s already claiming it was such a secret and basically the whole Crew team knew makes me sick. All gay people want is for people to feel sorry for them. Just a bunch of complainers. Be gay and stay away. No one cares.

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    • b

      The irony of your comment is palpable.

      Since that will likely be lost on you, let me expand: it’s because of small-minded, bigoted, hateful idiots like yourself that an announcement like this is necessary.

      Like

    • nick

      obviously you care or you wouldn’t post or get your panties in a bunch over people wanting to live a open normal life.

      Like

    • Andy

      Actually, what gay people people want is to be treated like everyone else. Be gay and stay away? No one cares? Speak for yourself!

      Like

  • Parker

    As a gay man, please stay in the game and prove that you are no different from anyone else Robbie! Mad respect and much love

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  • Kung Fu Kangaroos

    If someone already mentioned this, my apologies (too many posts to read through) … perhaps Robbie wants to see what the feedbackand reation is like … what the mood of MLS players, Fire team & organization, general fans, media, and such are … if it’s more positive / neutral than negative … then he may come back to play.

    Like

  • Andrew

    I hope “step away” only means he’s taking a break.

    The biggest criticism of Rogers as a player was always that he wasn’t always mentally in the game. But if keeping his sexual orientation secret was a big distraction for him, it’s understandable. I hope coming out of the closet means he can come back more focused and play to his full potential.

    Like

  • Gerald

    I think that people are entitled to their opinions either way as long as it’s expressed as an opinion.

    That being said……Come back Robbie most of us do not care

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  • primoone

    Bravo. Way to go….so courageous.

    We press on…so who is going to replace donovan when he comes out?

    Like

  • Nate Dollars

    ives, just commenting to say that i appreciate the strike-through on the updated language (‘retiring’ vs ‘stepping away’).

    i know in previous updated posts, you (or other sbi writers) just corrected (or removed) language without leaving a trace of the original. don’t know if this is sbi’s new practice, but just want to say i noticed, and i like it.

    Like

  • OBRick

    Come on Robbie you don’t need to quit the sport you love. Come back home and play in the MLS!

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  • Goalscorer24

    I think it is great for him that he is coming out, but does that mean he has to quit soccer? Or is that decision unrelated?

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  • Kosh

    I am happy for Robbie and cannot imagine the burden that lived with. I hope he’s not leaving the game because of this and certainly hope he finds his way back into the game. Good luck, Robbie.

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  • mls addict

    I’m in awe of his courage. Congrats Robbie you will forever be respected and remembered regardless if you choose to play professionally again or not. I will make sure my kids understand the importance of what you have chosen to do. Thank You!

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  • chris_thebassplayer

    I support Rodgers 100% and wish him well. Unfortunately we’re still living in the dark ages due to many religions, and in this country christian faiths, demonizing gay members of society. I blame the Christian Right for perpetuating decades of intolerance towards gays. As others have expressed, I hope at some point he reconsiders and plays in MLS.

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  • Adrian

    If he’s gay who cares I’m not his mother. We have bigger fish to fry than one man’s religious conflict. If he believes in a God his God should accept him for himself or else the concept is pointless. Good luck to him in Life there are more pressing issues for the men’s national team and in the world. The homophobic jokes are funny; stop with the political correctness this is not a Presidential Campaign

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  • H-town

    On a religious basis, I believe homosexuality is a sin, but it does not mean they should be ridiculed or mistreated. They are still children of our Heavenly Father, and they should be loved and respected as such inspite of their personal behavior.

    Whether you believe it is a choice or whether people are born with those tendencies, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t excuse mistreatment of another person ever. I know I don’t want to be judged publicly for my transgressions.

    Like

  • Don Pelayo

    Any response from US Soccer or Klinsmann? It would be great for them to come forward and offer Rogers their full support.

    Like

  • Andy in Atlanta

    My favorite Robbie moments was in the 2007 U20 WC up in Canada… I thought he was destined for greatness along with Sal Zizzo… I can’t help but wonder if his time since his last season in Columbus has been hampered by a feeling of personal struggle and perhaps isolation… Was very unlucky at Leeds with managerial situations and injuries… never been the same player since 2009…

    Like

  • Luis C

    A lot of respect to this young man,wish you can play for my Red Bulls human being with that character are a big example for the soccer community.Best wishes on his life.

    Like

  • Paula

    Rogers’ former teammate @ Leeds suggests that Robbie has a lot of other interests besides soccer at this point. He isn’t necessarily retiring just because of his sexual orientation.

    Leaving the door open a tiny bit to returning, but he doubts it.

    Wouldn’t mind this guy turning to commentary, as we don’t have many sports journalists who are openly gay. This is the beginning of a very long transition for male American pro athletes, I think, and his voice (like Twellman’s re concussions) could be very important in shaping public opinion.

    Good luck to Robbie.

    Like

  • Micah

    Wasn’t Ljunberd from Sweden gay? He had a very successful career. I wonder why Robbie chose to quite soccer.

    Like

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