There was widespread support Saturday for former U.S. international Robbie Rogers who announced late Friday that he was gay and was retiring from professional soccer.
The 25-year-old, who was released by Championship side Leeds United a few weeks ago, said on his website that: “Secrets can cause so much internal damage. My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today’s society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose.”
He said that he had been too scared to admit to his secret because he was afraid it would keep him from achieving his dreams.
“I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined. I will always be thankful for my career. ... I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made along the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.
“Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.”
The president of soccer’s governing body FIFA, Joseph Blatter, said that he welcomed Rogers’ coming out. “That is 2013, thank you,” Blatter said in a tweet.
The U.S. Soccer Federation said that it was proud of Rogers, who was capped 18 times and represented the U.S. in Beijing at the Olympics.
Former U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller tweeted that he supported Rogers. “The courage of Robbie Rogers is remarkable. I hope he knows that he did not have to retire. He will receive more support than he imagines.”