No place for homophobia in football
Robbie Rogers' story should encourage other gay footballers to 'come out'
Football, over the years, has notoriously been a masculine sport both on and off the field.
The recent decision by ex-Leeds United and USA international player Robbie Rogers to bravely reveal his sexuality has highlighted how far football still needs to develop in the modern world.
Rogers' case is sad in respect of the player feeling the need to effectively end his football career due to his admission. It will have taken huge courage for Rogers to reveal his sexuality but it is a sad indictment of football that the player, at twenty five years old, feels as though his career is effectively over by doing so.
Rogers himself admitted that he has felt a huge burden lifted from his shoulders when he said to BBC Sport website.
"I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity,"
"Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football."
Rogers should never have felt that he should keep his sexuality secret. This would not happen in any other profession in any other walk of life so why should football be any different.
Previous players who have revealed their homosexuality have been few and far between. Justin Fashanu was perhaps the only other famous footballer to reveal his sexuality whilst still playing the game. Unfortunately players feel that their careers can be seriously affected by 'coming out'. More support should be made available to them and moves should be put in place in do this.
Football has a lot of challenges which need addressing. Racism is still a serious issue that plagues several top European leagues, and homophobia, particularly on the terraces, has seemingly never gone away.
Football does not mirror real life in this respect as Britain is a multi-cultural place to live with many sexualities openly living their lives in peace. In most work places up and down the country there are people of all different sexualities working together and this has been readily accepted for a number of years now. However, as far as football is concerned, these instances are a rarity.
The PFA have a lot of work to do in this area, not least in supporting players to be open and honest and giving support to those who take those brave, initial first steps. A lot of education needs to take place for footballers and not just on issues of sexuality. The typical football crowds also need educating but, admittedly, this may be more difficult to achieve.
Other sports have also had high profile players reveal their sexualities, notably Wales rugby player Gareth Thomas and Tim Ambrose in cricket. Again though these instance are very rare.
Football should take note of the support these players have received by both governing bodies and colleagues alike. There are still many instances that show football is still behind the times and not engaging in twenty-first century life. It is time football took these matters seriously and hopefully Robbie Rogers' admission will be a watershed for the game.
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