International documentaries address homophobia in football15 July 2016

TwodocumentarieslauncheddaysapartinItalyandtheUnitedKingdomarehighlightingthestigmaaroundgayfootballplayersandchallenginghomophobiainthegame.

Aimed at educating and entertaining, both films have gathered the support of international football starts and football authorities who see an opportunity to inform and break down stereotypes.

‘Il calciatore invisible’ (in English ‘The invisible player’) produced by the Italian filmmaker Matteo Tortora is the first documentary about homophobia in football in Italy and tells the story of the Florence-based gay-friendly Revolution Team. Through interviews with the Galatasaray and former Italy, Fiorentina and Roma manager Cesare Prandelli and the former Milan centre back Alessandro Costacurta the documentary promotes a debate around the topic and offers support for gay players.

The film also looks at the relationships between players, clubs and fans and the impact of these in promoting a diverse and welcoming environment in football for gay players.

The first trailer was released on 18 June and along with it a crowdfunding campaign to fund the last stage of the film production.

There are currently 13 000 professional players in Italy but no top player has yet come out as gay. Earlier this year, Italian football was at the centre of criticism after Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri used homophobic language towards Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini  at a Copa Italia match. The incident took place at the same time that thousands across Europe celebrated the Football v Homophobia Month of Action.

LGBT organisations reacted to the abuse calling for an exemplary sanction. Months before, the details of an audio recording between Italian FA (FIGC) President Carlo Travecchio and the real estate mogul Cesare Anticoli were released, where the FIGC president is heard making disparaging comments about Jews and gays.

Days before, the trailer for a new short film called ‘WONDERED’, which focuses on a young professional footballer whose sexuality is threatening to alienate him from football, was released to raise awareness of homophobia within football and give confidence to members of the LGBT community who are looking to find a pathway into the game.

Produced by 27-year-old filmmaker Rhys Chapman, the film’s core message is of acceptance, inclusion and diversity.

“We’ve created an authentic and emotional portrayal of a fictional gay footballer at the top of the game, to shine a light on this subject and hopefully create a great deal of compassion towards any gay footballers” said Chapman.

“We’ve made the character very likeable, and he’s relatable to a straight audience too. You want him to succeed.” he added.

The film has won support from a host of different organisations, including the Football Association, the Premier League, Adidas and Sky Sports, with commentator Martin Tyler and reporter Geoff Shreeves lending their voices to the film. ‘WONDERKID’ will premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square before the start of next season and will later be released online.