Openly gay professional US football player Robbie Rogers has spoken in an interview to say that he thinks that most UK football fans are not homophobic.
The 26-year-old former Leeds United player believes that anti-gay chants are a result of football fans becoming “passionate” during the match.
Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, Rogers said: “For whatever reason, I don’t think fans in England or fans in the UK are homophobic at all. They are just so passionate they will do anything to help their team get a little bit of an edge.
“The things they will say in a stadium does not reflect their character. But they take it just a little bit overboard sometimes. I learned that while I was in England.”
However, the footballer’s comments made this morning reflect that it is not the culture or beliefs, but the behaviour of UK fans that keep players from coming out.
“It’s a little bit sad. Fans need to realise what you’re saying to players, especially when you are on that level. You need to think it through before you start yelling at players.”
After going public about his sexuality in February, Rogers briefly announced his retirement from the game, but he has since returned to professional football and now plays for Los Angeles Galaxy.
To date, Justin Fashanu is the only UK British player to have come out. He committed suicide shortly after retiring from his career in 1998.
When BBC Radio 5 Live asked Mr Rogers at what point he thinks a UK player might be ready to come out, he said: “I have no clue when someone will feel they can do that. I hope soon.
“I hope they can learn from my experience, if possible, to see that it wasn’t a big deal and that I’m playing football and just carrying on with my life.”
Speaking on his experience coming out as a US player in May, Mr Rogers said: “People have seen how accepting everyone has been of Jason’s and my story. I think it’s going to take just more time and more athletes coming out. It’s all about seeing that it’s not something to be afraid of. It’s not going to hurt your career.”