FA chief: Tackling homophobia is a priority
FA Working Group to propose new action plan
"Give homophobia the red card" says Tatchell
London – 16 September 2009
“The Football Association’s Chairman, Lord Triesman, has assured me that the FA plans to step up its campaign to drive homophobia off the pitch and out of the terraces,” said human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, of gay group OutRage!
“Progress has been slow and frustrating. The goodwill seems to be there, but the FA’s delivery has been patchy. The recent Stonewall report (see below) is damning about the scale of homophobia in football and the failure of the FA and clubs to stamp it out.
“The FA now says it is committed to renew its efforts, which is good news. The Tackling Homophobia Working Group, which has been dormant for a year, partly due to FA staff changes, will be reconvened in mid October. The long-promised anti-homophobia video, for broadcast at matches, will be finalised and launched in 2010,” said Mr Tatchell.
The head of the FA, Lord Triesman, has confirmed to Mr Tatchell that the video challenging homophobia in football is “one of the FA’s priorities.” He said:
“We remain committed to challenging all forms of discrimination in football and making the game open to all.
“We have been working closely with both Kick It Out and the Professional Footballers’ Association on producing a film that has a strong anti-homophobia message and look forward to premiering this in the New Year.
“The FA has good links with organisations like the Gay Football Supporters Network and we’re delighted that the recent Stonewall report supports our shared objective of football for all,” said Lord Triesman.
When the FA’s Tackling Homophobia Working Group reconvenes next month, Mr Tatchell and the gay human rights group OutRage! will press the FA for stronger, more concrete action to “give homophobia the red card”:
“The FA should impose fines and match suspensions on players and managers who use anti-gay insults,” said Mr Tatchell.
“We want clubs that fail to act against homophobic chants to face fines and, in extreme cases, match suspensions or point deductions.
“OutRage! will urge the FA to secure the agreement of all clubs to feature anti-homophobia messages in their match programmes, on tickets and on posters and billboards inside and outside football grounds.
“Prevention is better than cure. Education against homophobia can help overturn bigoted attitudes and make the game welcoming and secure for gay players and spectators. Only then will gay players feel safe to come out,” added Mr Tatchell.
FA spokesman Matt Phillips commented:
"The FA recognises that football has a duty to tackle all discrimination within the game and aims to confront aggressive issues such as homophobia.
"There was a change in football ground regulations at the start of the 2007/08 season which saw homophobic abuse deemed punishable. The FA supported this breakthrough further by teaming up with the Gay Football Supporters Network to provide liaison officers who can advise and educate Premier and Football League clubs and their stewards on homophobia in the game.
"The FA is in constant dialogue with both the Football Supporters Federation and the Met Police and worked closely with Hampshire Constabulary following abusive chanting at the Portsmouth v Spurs fixture last year.
"Future plans will see The FA working with the likes of Peter Tatchell, the PFA and Kick It Out on a short film that aims to tackle homophobia in football.
"There is no place in the game for homophobic or racist abuse and the FA calls for the strongest possible sanctions to be taken against anyone who is found guilty," said Mr Phillips.
The FA's Head of Equality, Sue Law, has confirmed that the Tackling Homophobia Working Group will meet on a regular basis from mid October: "The FA has completed its move from Soho Square to Wembley Stadium and we can now look forward to reconvening the Tackling Homophobia Group and discussing the issues raised in the Stonewall report.
See the Stonewall report here:
"We've read the Stonewall report with interest and we're pleased that the fans featured in the poll are aware that homophobic abuse is something that's just not acceptable.
"Like anything, it starts with education and the Stonewall report gives The FA a base and direction for future work in dealing with clubs and their staff, players, stewards and fans.
"I'm sure that our Tackling Homophobia Group members will have a variety of ideas on how we can build on these foundations, but it is key that our game is united in kicking homophobia out of football," she noted.
Stonewall Report (2009)
Leagues behind – Football’s failure to tackle anti-gay abuse
To read the full report visit: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/football
Key findings from the Stonewall Report:
Seven in ten fans who have attended a match in the last five years have heard anti-gay language and abuse on the terraces.
Three in five fans believe anti-gay abuse from fans dissuades gay professional players from coming out.
One in four fans believe anti-gay abuse from team mates contributes to there currently being no openly gay players.
Over half of football fans think the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League are not doing enough to tackle anti-gay abuse.
Only three in ten believe they are doing enough already.
Half of football fans think football clubs themselves are not doing enough to tackle anti-gay abuse, only a third believe they are doing enough already.
85 per cent support police action over the abuse against Sol Campbell
Three quarters of fans sure there are top gay players
Three in four fans think there are gay players currently in the Premier League or Championship and seven in ten think there are gay players in Leagues One or Two.
Two thirds of fans would feel comfortable if a player on their team came out but only one in eight think there is a gay player on their team.
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