Hmmm….I think I’ll be convinced when this occurs in the middle of a player’s career, when they’re at their most profitable and popular.
There have been quite a few sportspeople in all sports that have ‘come out’ when in the midst of retiring, or many years after. They have all signalled great societal change, but not any significant change for the sporting world that they were leaving behind.
Quite right. I don’t want to diminish what will have been a big and difficult step for Rogers, but to come out at the same time as announcing your retirement perpetuates, if anything, the belief that you can’t be openly gay and have a career as a professional sportsman.
To immediately retire sends the wrong message. At 25, you would normally have another 5 years playing football if you could avoid injury. You also have to consider the fans. Here in the UK you can be arrested for chanting racist slurs at sports events, but I’m not so sure that the same would happen if homophobic chants were heard. Unless you have the laws to protect gay sportsmen and women and you enforce them rigorously, I can see why so many choose to stay in the closet. Give them legal protection and they’ll come out.
I thought UK laws still applied to the inside of football stadiums and that chants of racist or homophobic slurs would be illegal just as they would be anywhere else. If gay footballers are being targeted with hatred from the stands or being bullied in the changing rooms then surely football clubs, the Football Association, the Police and the Courts have an obligation to ensure they are protected by enforcing the laws already in place.
Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph:
Rogers comes out as a role model
A few years back, I received a call from an agent
politely enquiring why I had omitted a remark by
one of his clients, a well-known player, about
how much he loved chasing women. The
interview was more a football piece than a
lifestyle one, I replied. The agent said his player
was discreetly trying to spread the message
about his interest in women because of rumours
that he was gay. He wasn’t but the little episode
did highlight dressing-room sensitivities.
Ridiculous, I said to the agent. Who cares about
an individual’s sexuality? Some players did,
apparently, hence the quote.
Thankfully, that attitude towards football’s last
taboo could be changing, judging by the
supportive response of Leeds United players
such as Adam Drury and Ross McCormack
towards former team-mate Robbie Rogers, who
has just come out. Rogers has now retired but it
is to be hoped that the enlightened reaction to
his announcement, and events in rugby union
with Gareth Thomas and cricket with Steven
Davies, might make gay footballers feel the
sporting world is shedding its chains of bigotry.
“We do have players who have said that, while
they are gay, they do not feel comfortable
enough to come out,’’ said Gordon Taylor, the
chief executive of the PFA. Now’s the time. A
few homophobic managers, players and fans
might need dragging out of the dark ages but
the media would be supportive. A footballer
who came out would instantly be lionised as a