The Football Association and Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion campaign, have released a 60 second ad aimed at raising awareness of and tackling homophobic abuse in football.
The film which has been described as “groundbreaking” by critics depicts acts of gay abuse in everyday life set against similar abuse inside a football stadium, is part of a wider campaign by the game to highlight and tackle the homophobia.
Support from gay community
The initiative has received support from the gay community, including from campaigners Stonewall, Outrage activist Peter Tatchell, the Gay Football Supporters Network and Sir Elton John, who said: “I fully support the initiative and hope people realise that homophobic abuse at matches should not be tolerated.”
FA chairman, Lord Triesman, added: “Both The FA and Kick It Out are committed to challenging all forms of discrimination in football and making the game family friendly and it’s our hope that everyone involved across all levels of the game will give the film’s anti homophobia message their full support.”
The FA has already confirmed that they plan to use the film as a training and education tool for matchday stewards in stadiums around the country.
PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor, also backed the film: “The PFA is proud of its work in the field of anti-discrimination.
“The English game is a beacon of diversity and it is unacceptable for the players involved to be subjected to abusive chanting be it racist or homophobic whilst they play. I applaud the ongoing work in this arena.”
The initiative has caused controversy amongst some groups because of the strong language it uses.
However Kick It Out Director Piara Powar argues, “A film of this kind cannot by itself solve the problem of homophobia in football.
“It can only be the start of a wider public campaign to tackle homophobic attitudes, abuse and harassment. We are confident the film is the kick-start we need.”
Backing from other sports
Support for the campaign has also come from other sports with Irish hurler, Donal Óg Cusack, who came out as gay last year.
He said, “The FA is showing excellent leadership in this. When I came out to a team which was at the top of its game the reaction could be summed up in two words. 'Yeah? So?'
“Anything less than that response dishonours and disfigures any sport we play or are associated with and that's why this film and campaign is so important,” said the Cloyne and Cork goalkeeper.
Chief Executive of England’s Rugby Football Union, Francis Barron, is also backing the initiative: “We welcome any scheme that seeks to remove discrimination from sport and which enhances the experience of gay or lesbian participants playing or watching sport.”