Leeds players offer Rogers support
Leeds players have offered their support to former team-mate Robbie Rogers after the American winger revealed he is gay.
Football was left to once again examine its last great taboo as Rogers, capped 18 times by the United States and a 2008 Olympian, wrote on his blog that he had been afraid of revealing his sexuality - and he now wants to live a new life outside of the game.
"Secrets can cause so much internal damage," he wrote. "People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay.
"Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently."
He added: "Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football."
Rogers left Elland Road last month by mutual consent after returning from a loan spell with Stevenage, but his old team-mates quickly took to Twitter to send their support.
"Full respect to @robbierogers and good luck in the next chapter of your life whatever you choose to do," wrote full-back Adam Drury
Striker Ross McCormack added: "Wow... Fair play to @robbierogers for coming out. Must of took great courage!!! Take care mate and stay strong!"
Defender Zac Thompson, out on loan at Bury, said: "A lot of respect for @robbierogers Good luck in what ever you choose to do next mate. All the best".
Leeds defender Jason Pearce added: "Fair play mate- and good luck in whatever you do next pal. Good to have met you. All the best x"
His revelation also drew praise from former Whites winger Robert Snodgrass and striker Dominic Poleon, now on loan at Sheffield United.
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 aged 37.
While the Professional Footballers' Association and other organisations continue to work with gay players within the game, none of them has wanted to go public.
Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, told Press Association Sport: "I'm pleased that Robbie's come out for his own sake. We do have players who've said that, while they are gay, they don't feel comfortable enough to come out.
"It's not dissimilar to many black players, and we need to create a safe environment for them on and off the field. If there is abuse, that needs to be dealt with by all the football family.
"It's no bad thing that he's been brave enough to come out. We know of players who are playing who are gay who've not had that confidence as yet. But, as the rest of the world becomes more civilised, hopefully that will come."
That view was echoed by Ruth Hunt, director of public affairs for lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall, who said: "It's great that Robbie now feels able to be open about his sexuality but it remains a shame that no professional player feels able to be out during their career.
"Homophobia remains rife in football and we must work together to stop it for the sake of the game."