Report on the EGLSF Conference Football Against Homophobia, Barcelona 200911 February 2009

The European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF) and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, in co-operation with the Gay and lesbian Football Fan Club of FC Barcelona Penya Blaugrana de Gais i Lesbianes, held the first EGLSF Conference Football Against Homophobia in Barcelona

From February 6th-8th, 2009 the meeting gathered gay and lesbian football fan groups from across the continent to discuss the issues facing gay and lesbian football supporters and how they could be tackled.

The participating organisations from Austria, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland were:

Andersrum rut-wiess, Bayer04-junxx, Dublin Devils FC, English Football Federation (The FA), FairPlay. Viele Farben. Ein Spiel/FARE, Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN), Hertha Junxx, Kick It Out/FARE, Meenzelmänner, Paris Foot Gay, Penya Blaugrana de Gais i Lesbianes, Queerpass Bayern, Queerpass St. Pauli, Stuttgarter Junx, UK Pride Sport Summit, Wankdorfjunxx, WildparkJunxx Karlsruhe.

A round of introductions made clear that the problems are the same everywhere: Discrimination happens first and foremost by ignoring homosexuality. In the entire world of football, clubs and associations with few exceptions choose to ignore homophobia and discrimination of gays and lesbians at all levels, for the simple reason that homosexuals supposedly do not exist in sport.

But 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

Only participants from England and Germany could report that the Football Federations of their countries support their work. The English FA is working closely together with the GFSN and has produced a programme called “Football for All”. The German FA has supported different evenings against homophobia and was also present during one of the biggest pride days in Germany in Cologne in 2008.

The Conference will from now on be held on a regularl basis, so that the power and influence of football can be mobilised to create public awareness of issues such as homosexuality, gender, homophobia, and sexism.

The first step to achieve these goals will be to create a special website for the conference on the EGLSF website with information on the work of all the groups, news items, reports of incidents, best practice etc.

During the weekend it was possible to create a Statement of Aims for co-
operation in future years.

Statement of Aims
The European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation Conference on football recognised that homophobic discrimination and abuse is preventing men and women of all sexualities from fully participating in the game and agreed to work together and support each other in combating homophobia in football.

We intend to do this by:

• providing a regular forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences;
• encouraging the formation of gay and lesbian football supporter clubs and other footballing groups;
• challenging stereotypes;
• supporting greater visibility of gay and lesbian players and fans;
• seeking footballing role models;
• seeking the cooperation and support of Europe’s football clubs, the governing bodies and footballing agencies; and
• providing a European social community of gay and lesbian football supporters.

By working together across Europe we hope to demonstrate that a person’s sexuality is not a barrier to being part of football and to ensure that football is safe, inclusive and tolerant for all to enjoy the game.

The closing session of the Conference was held right before the game of FC Barcelona vs. Sporting Gijon. After a welcome of all participants of the Conference from the board members of FC Barcelona in the museum of FC Barcelona, where Tanja Walther-Ahrens from EGLSF asked FC Barcelona to sign the Declaration against Discrimination, whilst the gay and lesbian football fan club from Penya Blaugrana de Gais i Lesbianes put its fan-plaque put onto the walls of Camp Nou.

The next conference will most probably be in Paris in 2010, to bring ideas and views together so that in the end commitment and support in different countries will be collected and have more impact then regional or national activities.

For further Information please contact:

Tanja Walther-Ahrens, EGLSF
tanja@eglsf.info
Pep Ribes, Penya Blaugrana de Gais i Lesbianes
penyagl@yahoo.com