Wednesday, January 21, 2015

LA Galaxy's Robbie Rogers blasts FIFA for Russia, Qatar choices


Openly gay LA Galaxy left-back Robbie Rogers on Tuesday reiterated his criticism of FIFA  for awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, two countries with poor records when it comes to rights for gays.

Speaking to reporters at an MLS media event, the former U.S. national team player said FIFA has a responsibility to live up to its own mission statement.
Openly gay LA Galaxy left-back Robbie Rogers on Tuesday reiterated his criticism of FIFA  for awarding the 2018 and 2022...

"I think about the role that FIFA plays and their sensitivity to the LGBT community -- not only the LGBT community but to human rights in different countries," said Rogers, who publicly announced he was gay in 2013. "I mean, if you read their mission statement on their website it talks about using football to promote education and human rights.

"So to then to have the World Cup in countries that don't support human rights and especially the LGBT community, of course it crosses my mind."

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill in 2013 that banned the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors." Gay sex is illegal in Qatar.

"I think people need to start talking about it now. We waited until the last six months before the Russian Olympics to bring up the issue," said the 27-year-old.

"I think now they should bring up the topic and they should start speaking to FIFA about creating a guideline of what a country needs to have to have a World Cup. There needs some kind of guideline of how to protect the athletes and gay fans."

Rogers, who has made 18 appearances for the United States, announced he was gay after leaving Leeds United in 2013. After a brief retirement, he returned to the MLS and after shifting from midfield to left-back, helped the Galaxy to the title this past season.

Rogers was on the American under-23 squad at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but last played for the U.S. senior team in 2011. He said he would welcome the chance to return to the U.S. squad, but said he has not spoken with U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann since he came out.

"I haven't spoken to Jurgen. When I was coming out, it was to a very small group of people: my family, then some of my teammates like Sacha Kljestan, Brad Evans," Rogers said. "Jurgen was one of the guys that I tried to get in contact with -- email, messages, stuff like that. And I haven't heard from him.

"I don't know how he feels about me as a soccer player. I don't know how he feels about the whole situation. But I'm sure I'll speak with him and I know he said there is an open door for me with the national team. That's cool, I guess.

"We'll see how the season goes and if I continue to improve as a left-back, I'd love to play on the national team and have that conversation with Jurgen.

"Of course I want to play for the national team but I think I need to have that conversation. I've know him since I was 12 or 13 years old. So I think him and I need to have a live conversation if he's interested. I think that's more important to me than playing on the national team. My coming out, for me was very personal. I was in a really dark place in my life, where I was really struggling.

"Jurgen wrote my letter to get to Leeds, for me to get a work permit. He was one of the guys who spoke to my mom about whether I should go to residency or not. He used to drive me to Galaxy training when I was younger. He really helped my throughout my career, so I think I need to have that conversation."