Last night I had the privilege of hosting the launch of the 2013 Football v Homophobia (FvH) campaign at Guildhall with Lou Englefield from Pride Sports, Megan Worthing-Davies from FvH, and Kelly Simmons MBE, the FA’s Director of the National Game and Women’s Football.
We all know that the ‘laddish’ culture in all sports can lead to players, coaches and supporters using language which in any other workplace or social environment would be called out as being wrong or discriminatory. In recent years, there has been a major focus in tackling racism in sport with notorious cases such as that involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand or the racist attacks on England’s Under-21 side in Serbia highlighting the need to react strongly against such misconduct.
At the same time, other forms of discrimination remain prevalent in sport, especially football. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia continue to be a blight on our national game. Prejudice and discrimination in football affects everyone, not just LGBT people. Justin Fashanu, the first ever out gay male professional footballer suffered bullying and hostility after his sexual orientation became public, but so too have heterosexual footballers such as Graeme Le Saux and Sol Campbell.
FvH is an international initiative uniting fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the Football Authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against LGBT people in football. FvH is endorsed and supported by The FA, Premier League, Football League and the League Managers’ Association. Year round, FvH enables people to take action against prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity in football, and to celebrate and welcome diversity in the game.