US football’s governing body has launched an investigation, after LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers was subjected to homophobic abuse by another player.
The former Leeds United player came out as gay in 2013, and after retiring from English football signed a contract to play for US team LA Galaxy.
The player has always maintained his sexuality has not been an issue while playing for the team, and that there have been no homophobic incidents.
But that ended during a United Soccer League match against the Orange County Blues.
Rogers recalled in a Facebook post: “In the heat of the last fifteen minutes of the game a player from the opposing team called me a ‘queer’ repeatedly.
“To be honest my initial reaction was one of shock. This is my fourth season back in the MLS and I’ve yet to hear another player use that or any other gay slur during a game.”
He added: “I went to bed upset last night. Angry at this player 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.”
He continued: “I’m thankful for the many players on my team and even the opposing one who apologised to me for one man’s actions.
“Today, I woke up grateful to work in an organisation filled with so many players and coaches who have worked hard to practice tolerance of everyone and to help change a culture.
“I am proud more than ever that I had the courage to come out as a queer man. 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.
“I’m encouraging, as I did when I came out four years ago, all athletes to find the courage within themselves to come out.
“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.”
A Major League Soccer spokesperson said: “Soon after Robbie Rogers shared his story on social media on Sunday about being subject to a homophobic slur while playing for the LA Galaxy II in a USL match on Saturday, Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League began an investigation.
“Although the investigation is ongoing, both MLS and the USL have zero tolerance for homophobia or any type of discrimination in our game.”
International footballing body FIFA recently punished seven national teams after fans were found to have used homophobic chants.