The Football Association in England (FA) has taken another step towards addressing the issue of intolerance and bigotry towards homosexual football players and fans.
In a new publication called the Football v Homophobia Toolkit for Professional Club, there are some facts, some case studies and a list of contacts and further reading.
Organisations listed at supportive include the Metropolitan (London) Police, the Professional Footballers Association, the Premier League, the Referees Association and the League Managers Association.
The preamble to the document explains the purpose of the campaign:
“The FA runs and endorses campaigns to challenge all these forms of discrimination.
This ‘toolkit’ is focused on ways we can all tackle homophobia: discrimination based on sexual orientation and transphobia: discrimination based on gender identity.
We’ve chosen February onwards to promote the ‘Football v Homophobia’campaign, and it would be great to enlist your support and influence.”
February was the month in which Justin Fashanu was born. Fashanu was the first player in England to come out as gay.
Some of the facts make for interesting if sobering reading:
» Around 6-8%of the population in the UK are thought to be lesbian, gay,
bisexual or transgender (LGB or T).
» LGB&T communities perceive football to be unfriendly and unsafe. 14.3%
of LGB&T people surveyed by the National Union of Students in 2012 said
that homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia had put them off participating in
sports like football.
It adds that one in four fans think football in England is homophobic.
Beyond England, the document adds an international dimension to the campaign:
In Europe, FvH is backed by FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) and Kick It Out. Both of these organisations work alongside individuals and clubs across the continent according to the document.
It further suggests template announcements to be made at matches, therefore elevating homophobic remarks to the same level as inapproproriacy as has been the case with racism for some years.
The case studies refer to AFC Rushden and Diamonds and Liverpool FC who worked with a gay football club Liverpool Pride and Mersey Marauders. Older fans will recall that Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler encountered some negative attention after making both homophobic remarks and gestures at Graeme Le Saux.
The document will be welcomed in most places but especially at Brighton and Hove Albion, whose fans routinely are on the wrong end of homophobic chants, due to the Sussex town’s perceived high number of gay and lesbian inhabitants.
The club actually released a survey among their own supporters to gauge the effect of the abuse and the fans themselves demanded the FA take action to curtail the level of homophobia addressed at them.
Robbie Rogers – Please Come Back and Play – Huffington Post