Robbie Keane is a man who loves his country.
Recently, the Galaxy legend wrote an open letter to the Dublin Sunday World in which he urged a 'yes' vote to an upcoming referendum that would change the Irish constitution to allow for gay marriage.
"Marriage equality is an easy answer for me and will show the world that Ireland is a compassionate country that recognises and accepts diversity, and most importantly treats its citizens equally," wrote Keane.
Keane's strong support for marriage equality has undoubtedly been influenced at some level by the time he has spent with teammate Robbie Rogers. Rogers came out as gay in 2013 while playing for Leeds United in England, subsequently retiring from football before signing with the LA Galaxy. Rogers has stated that he believes footballing culture and supporter culture are the main reasons that there aren't more openly gay footballers.
As we've seen over the past year, this concept has spread throughout American sports, most recently with the wide media coverage that Michael Sam received after coming out as gay before the 2014 NFL draft.
Keane envisions a world where we finally have the equality that we continue to say is the answer, but we can't quite seem to reach. Michael Sam's rise to publicity-fueled stardom exclusively due to his sexuality is proof that, here in America, where we parade our social progressiveness, we haven't reached equality. We're still wondering how homosexuality fits into sports, even though Robbie Rogers proves every single week that it doesn't matter even a little bit.
Keane's support for marriage equality is a vital idea. For soccer to live up to its lofty conceptualization that it is a vehicle for change and a bastion of hope in the sporting world, it has to be unified in its support of social progress. Campaigns like Don't Cross the Line are important, but even more so are the individual athletes, the recognizable faces in world football, who voice their support and concern for social issues.
People like Robbie Keane, who have the ability to have worldwide influence on others, have the responsibility to stand up for progress and equality.
It truly is an awesome thing when they fulfill that responsibility.