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Some great insight into Robbie Rogers’ weighty decision

Feb 15, 2013, 5:05 PM EDT

Rogers-head shot

Here is some truly great reporting here from veteran soccer writer Shawn Mitchell of The Columbus Dispatch.

It doesn’t sound like Rogers will be talking to media anytime soon about Friday’s revelations, although he will clearly have ample opportunity considering his prominent place in the domestic game.

So Mitchell went to the next link in the chain. He dialed up Andy Iro, who was in a great position to provide some insight.

Iro played with Rogers at Columbus, and he was united once again with the speedy left winger at Stevenage FC in England’s third tier. Rogers had a short stay at the club (coached by former Colorado Rapids manager Gary Smith, who won MLS Cup 2010 for the Rapids) but left the club recently.

Iro, reached in England, painted a sharp picture, one that we all might have assumed now in retrospect, of a man in heavy conflict about his choice.

He knew he couldn’t be the man he wanted to be when he had to hide something so integral to his life. I think with football, with the locker room and the banter that goes around, I don’t think it made him uncomfortable but he didn’t want to continue a lie. I think he genuinely started to become interested in some other passions (fashion, publishing, etc.). He’ll always have a love for soccer. He’ll always check the Arsenal score. But I think he felt like this chapter has ended. He’s ready to move on to other things. Once he’s retired then he’s out of the picture for most people. He seems fairly adamant that he wanted to be done with football.”

There are so much good, revealing, wise words from Iro here, on the process of coming out, on whether Rogers might rejoin the sport at some point and more. Iro speaks so highly of Rogers and with so much humanity about the developments, it makes you happy that Rogers had good people like this around him through the years.

What Iro had to say about the difficulty of coming out in professional sports:

This is a very ego-driven sport, very male, a lad kind of sport. Coming out to football players, guys that he’s played with, been in the locker room with, that’s extremely difficult. I don’t know too many people that have a closer relationship with their family and there were obviously some religious issues there. And with soccer and Southern California and those things, that’s kind of a homogenous group there. So coming out as a gay man has implications for both he and his family. It wasn’t the easiest thing for him to do, but there was a good response from his family. I think that put him at ease.”

  1. florean - Feb 15, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    I know he’s been basically trying to decide if he should do it for a little while, whether he was going to make a formal statement or whether he would just drift off. For him, he thought maybe he’d just kind of take some time and hopefully he’d be forgotten about.

    The phrase “hopefully he’d be forgotten about” breaks my heart. I hope this process brings him some peace so he longer feels like he has to disappear.

    • Steve Davis - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:11 PM

      Well said. I thought the same thing.

    • jsmith80 - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      I am happy to hear that there was a good response from his family. I hope that through continued support from his family and friends that he doesn’t feel that he needs to disappear. I am happy that the US media, MLS and many current and former players are stepping up and supporting Rogers. Good luck in his future endeavors, but I selfishly hope he returns and plays for Chicago. Klopas left the ball on his side today should he choose to play.

  2. drewvt6 - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    I don’t get the whole “soccer, Southern California, homogeneous” grouping. Soccer in SoCal is some of the most colorful groups I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve seen openly gay Jews playing alongside Persians, Iraqi’s, Syrians… I’d bet the only places in the world where you can compare the mix of ethnicities playing the beautiful game are London, Paris, NY and Toronto. Is that a stereotype out there? That the SoCal Soccer Scene is homogeneous?

    • florean - Feb 16, 2013 at 2:19 AM

      He painted with a wide brush, but he’s a Brit. What he really meant was Orange County, which is where Robbie grew up. Orange County is like the inverse of Austin, Texas. And a much better fit for that description.

  3. mvktr2 - Feb 16, 2013 at 5:36 AM

    Most of us never think about our child being homosexual, and why would we with the possibilities being so remote. However Robbie’s story and Iro’s characterization should give us pause, especially people of faith. I mentioned before I’m a minister (neither ultra conservative nor ultra liberal) and my wife and I both have made a point, not a huge deal or production we both simply spoke with our eldest daughter briefly about this subject. Letting her know that no matter what we would love her and encouraging her to understand that when she really needs someone, if she ever needs to simply feel loved, we will be there for her, even specifically speaking to homosexuality. Food for thought.

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