The European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation and the Football Against Racism in Europe network are to hold a meeting for queer football fans groups in Barcelona in February.
In co-operation with Penya Blaugrana de Gais i Lesbianes the meeting will see queer football fan groups from across the continent gather to discuss the issues facing gay and lesbian football fans.
The meeting, which is scheduled to take place from Friday 6th February to Sunday 8th February 2009, will also feature a number of group discussions.
On Saturday morning, there will be a session on what queer football supporters' clubs would like to achieve on a European level, and how ideas that have worked in Germany can be transposed to the rest of Europe.
Saturday afternoon will see a discussion on the involvement of FARE with queer supporters' groups, and their role in the build-up to major tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championships.
Sunday morning will feature a final discussion with feedback and a look at the future prospects for gay and lesbian football fans across Europe.
The weekend also includes a trip to the Nou Camp to watch Spanish giants Barcelona take on Sporting Gijon. Right before the Game a ceremony will be held where the queer football fan club from FC Barcelona Penya Blaugrana de Gais i Lesbianes will get its fan-badge put onto the walls of Camp Nou.
Tanja Walther-Ahrens of EGLSF said:
In order to tap the full potential of football, all forms of discrimination need to be counteracted. While racism is frequently on the agenda, discrimination and abuse based on sexual orientation, homophobia, and sexism are mostly neglected.
EGLSF hopes that with this weekend in Barcelona, the first steps could be taken to create a number of suggestions and examples on what should be done to arrive at a situation in which players, fans, and all others involved in football no longer experience any discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
Power and influence
The power and influence of football need to be mobilised to create public awareness of issues such as homosexuality, gender, homophobia, and sexism.
Discrimination happens first and foremost by ignoring homosexuality. In the entire world of sport, clubs and associations with few exceptions choose to ignore homophobia and discrimination of gays and lesbians on all levels, for the simple reason that homosexuals supposedly do not exist in sport.
But they do exist as the meeting of Queer Football Fan Clubs from all over Europe in Barcelona shows. The meeting will hopefully bring ideas and views together so that in the end commitment and support in different countries will be collected by EGLSF and FARE to have more impact then regional or national activities.
The meeting would be the ideal moment for FC Barcelona to sign the declaration against discrimination, like others from German clubs and organisation have already done.
„Fighting Discrimination in Football”:
The participants of …..event support this declaration and conclude to transfer these objectives in their clubs and organisations:
Anybody determined to fight discrimination must first acknowledge the fact that there are other forms of discrimination in football besides racism. These include discrimination of challenged persons, anti-Semitism, homophobia, islamophobia, sexism and xenophobia. He or she must also acknowledge that any form of discrimination is always directed at people involved in the football world such as fans, players, coaches, assistants, referees, etc.
Hostilities in football concern everybody, not just women, homosexuals or persons of different faith. For this reason, not just anti-racism, but anti-discrimination paragraphs will be incorporated in stadium and club statutes. These sections will state that nobody may be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, skin colour, gender, challenge or faith.
Simply introducing this paragraph will not suffice. In order to make the public aware of the new provisions, their introduction should be supplemented by PR activities such as panel discussions, flyers handed out at stadiums, and comments by players. Activities should also include educating security guards, coaches, referees, assistants and youth teams on a regular basis in order to guard against prejudice and eliminate its foundations.
Diversity in football should be presented as a matter of course, e.g. by covering women’s football on a regular basis or by reporting on the many ways in which gays and lesbians, women, ethnic minorities etc. are involved in football. By actively working together with gays and lesbians, migrants, women’s football clubs, female fan clubs, etc. we can take sides against discrimination and reduce existing prejudice step by step.
Discriminatory behaviour or wearing provocative symbols will be registered and documented in order to make it available for analysis. This will be helpful for finding solutions and/or for imposing sanctions against the wrongdoer or the institution in question. Therefore every club and organisation should implement an anti-discrimination representative.