FARE gets behind International Day Against Homophobia in Football18 February 2010

For the first time an International Day Against Homophobia in Football will raise awareness on the problem of homophobia in amateur and professional football.

The Justin Campaign, named after the only out gay footballer, Justin Fashanu, are launching the initiative “Football v Homophobia”on February 19th 2010.

The Justin Campaign was founded to demonstrate that ten years after Justin Fashanu’s tragic suicide in 1998, homophobia is still hugely prevalent in the world of professional football. The aim of this international day opposing homophobia in football is to unite clubs, players and fans across the country by using the game of football to bring communities together in opposing hate and discrimination in the world’s favourite sport.

Community football teams throughout the UK, Europe and America will be showing their support for the cause by holding a series of football matches and fun events throughout the day under the banner of Football v Homophobia. The Justin Campaign’s football team in association with Norwich LGBT Pride Collective will be kicking off the celebrations with a triage of fun community events throughout the day and a football tournament kicking off at 7pm at Carrow park in Norwich on February 19th where Fashanu began his career. Amal Fashanu, John Fashanu’s daughter will be there to open the event with David McNally Chief Executive of Norwich FC attending to show his support. MPs Charles Clarke and Chloe Smith will be blowing the whistle to kick off the matches and Roy Blower, Norwich City Council Sports Champion will also be attending.

The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network celebrated its tenth anniversary at the “Football for Equality” conference in December in Vienna, highlighting the fight against homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation in football. These issues are on the agenda of the FARE network and got a new impact when the cooperation with the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) kicked-off in 2002. EGLSF became a member of the FARE Admin Group subsequently.

EGLSF Co-President, Pepe Garcia Vazquez says:
“We welcome the news of this campaign and look forward to the future development of this initiative. For the past six years EGLSF has been leading the European campaign to tackle homophobia in football as part of the FARE network. We hope that this campaign day will unite the efforts of all those working to challenge homophobia throughout Europe.”

Markus Pinter from FARE partner organisation FairPlay-vidc, who coordinated the FARE Action Week in October, adds:
“When we started with the FARE network in 1999 we were faced with a widespread neglect of the problem of racism within European football. Meanwhile, football governing bodies, clubs and media have recognised that racism has to be challenged pro-actively. At the same time football finds it still difficult to make it clear that homophobia is as unacceptable as racism. Within the framework of our annual FARE Action Weeks we support grass-roots initiatives who combat homophobia on the ground. Following our ‘Football for Equality’ conference we think that it is high time to call for an international day against homophobia in football, which we fully support.”

Currently FARE partner organisations are running the “Football for Equality” project co-funded by the European Commission (DG Justice) under the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme. The fight against homophobia in football is the main issue of this joint programme. The next event to be hold will be a conference for gay and lesbian fan groups in Berlin in May.

14th Feb – HotScots love football/Football v Homophobia tournament – Edinburgh

19th Feb – Merseyside Marauders are launching their new football strip in Liverpool as part of a hate crime awareness raising day and will be celebrating under the banner of Football v Homophobia.

19th Feb – Panteres Grogues in Barcelona are hosting a football match in name of Football v Homophobia with speeches from local politicians and sponsors.

19th Feb – Flashmob style football supporters photo opportunity outside of the URBIS museum Manchester with PrideSports and Queer Youth Network.

19th Feb – Sussex University: Round robin competition between Sussex University, Brighton University & Brighton & Sussex Medical School.

19th Feb – Croatia – Football matches.

20th Feb – The Exeter Lions will be holding a Football Tournament in Exeter in association with Intercom Trust and Plymouth Pride.

20th Feb – Washington DC – The Federal Triangles football tournament.

21st Feb – Tri Gay Mexico a Mexican LGBT Football team will be playing out the semi-finals of their Mexico City LGBT football tournament under the banner of Football v Homophobia.

21st Feb – Nottingham Ball Bois are supporting the international Football v Homophobia on February 19th day with a contribution to an LGBT exhibition at Nottingham Council House on February 16th, and events at the match against Birmingham Blaze on February 21st. The annual day of support is part of The Justin Campaign which is set up to break down the barriers of homophobia within football at all levels.

22nd Feb – Brighton Bandits v London Leftfooters – Brighton & Hove City Centre.