Robbie Rogers will become the first openly gay player in a professional men’s American sport when he suits up for the Los Angeles Galaxy later this summer.
The former US national team winger has agreed to a deal with the Galaxy. Rogers, who has been openly gay, had retired from the sport but said last month he was considering a return.
Rogers said returning to serve as a role model was a major consideration in his comeback.
“I seriously felt like a coward,” he said. “These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I’m 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?”
Rogers began practicing with with the L.A. Galaxy a few weeks ago, but the Chicago Fire actually acquired his rights from the Columbus Crew, where Rodgers played for five seasons.
“My personal hope is that we’ll sign him and that they can find out a way to work a trade with Chicago,” said Galaxy player Landon Donovan said at the time. “I think beyond the immediate soccer part, I think there’s much bigger positive consequences that can come from that, and we’re all hopeful that he’ll get fit and play well and that Bruce [Arena] wants to sign him.”
Robbie Rogers’ return has garnered attention outside of soccer circles after NBA player Jason Collins last month announced that he is gay, making him the first professional athlete in a major American sport to come out while he is still playing.
As he contemplated a return, Rogers said he found plenty of support from family and other players, including Donovan.
“I don’t know what I was so afraid of,” Rogers said. “It’s been such a positive experience for me. The one thing I’ve learned from all of this is being gay is not that big of a deal to people. …
“People are just really growing and accepting and loving,” he added. “Those other things are just not that important to them. I think as the younger get older and the generations come and go, I think times are just becoming more accepting.”
Robbie Rogers should officially become the first openly gay player in a men’s American professional sport sometime later this summer. Collins, who is an NBA free agent, would not begin playing until the fall.