'Banter' prevents players from coming out, says Robbie Rogers

 

A "pack mentality" in dressing rooms is preventing more gay footballers from coming out, according to former Leeds and Stevenage player Robbie Rogers.

The 25-year-old, who played in midfield, announced his retirement from the game after becoming the first professional footballer in Britain to reveal his homosexuality since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Rogers, who came out in a blog last month, was a United States international who won 18 caps for his country, and said that while several former team-mates sent him supportive texts and emails afterwards, many of them had participated in dressing-room "banter" that "could really be pretty awful".

"I'm not going to name names – it's just that pack mentality," Rogers told The New York Times. "I remember hearing some of them talk about the possibility of gay players and saying things like, 'If gay footballers can shower with us, I want to shower with girls.' And I'm just thinking, 'Dude, you have no idea what you're talking about.'"

He added: "I've showered with guys my whole life. And never once have I been excited, like, 'Oh yeah, it's time to shower with the guys.' It isn't that way. You don't think of guys on your team that way. You just don't."

Rogers was disappointed not to hear from other footballers who also wished to come out. Rogers said: "I don't think football is homophobic. But clearly there is something there. Because no one reached out. Not one other player said he was gay. So there's definitely still work to be done, right?" The Californian has revealed he may reconsider his decision to retire but is now studying at the London College of Fashion and is the co-owner of a fashion brand, Halsey.

Rogers received supportive messages from Robert Snodgrass, the Norwich City winger who played for Leeds. Snodgrass tweeted: "Full respect to Robbie Rogers. Shows there are more gay players than we think. Respect bro."

This week Matt Jarvis, the West Ham player who appeared on the front cover of gay magazine Attitude, claimed that the barriers to having openly gay footballers lay in the stands rather than in the dressing room.

Jarvis, who is not gay, said: "No one really feels like it's that much of a big deal. I don't think it would be a problem at all in and around football changing rooms."

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