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Mar 29, 2013

Robbie Rogers hopes for change

Former MLS and U.S. national team midfielder Robbie Rogers said Friday that "in football it's obviously impossible to come out," according to a report.

The 25-year-old former Leeds midfielder, who announced that he was gay last month, told The Guardian he felt remaining in football after publicly declaring his homosexuality was "impossible."

"Would I have had the same opportunities when I was younger if I'd come out?" Rogers said in The Guardian. "I don't think so. There would have been that mentality: 'Oh, he's gay … how will that affect the team?'"

Rogers, who made 18 appearances for the United States, said it would take a lot for the game to change and has only in the past weeks considered being an agent for change in the sport.

"About a month ago I would've thought: 'I don't want to be a spokesman for gay footballers,'" he said in the interview. "I have so many different things I'm interested in. But after thousands of emails, I'm thinking, OK, how can I help others? How can I make some positive change?"

No British-based professional player has come out since ex-Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu in 1990. He committed suicide eight years later at age 37. Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, publicly announced his homosexuality in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.

"I've heard it recently from coaches. Obviously they're not homophobic but they'll say: 'Don't pass the ball like a fag,'" he said in the interview. "What are you talking about? Does it make a difference, if you're gay or straight, as to how you pass the ball? Are you on drugs?' I guess they say it because they think it's funny. There's the stereotype of a gay man being soft and flamboyant."

In February, Rogers announced he was gay and that he would "step away" from the sport via his own blog.

The Chicago Fire acquired Rogers' rights last month in the event that he planned to return to the MLS. He last played for the U.S. team in 2011 and played on the under-23 squad at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Rogers saw action for the Columbus Crew from 2007-12.

Rogers was signed by Leeds in 2012 but injuries saw him go on loan to Stevenage.

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