The English FA supports gay football play02 October 2004

The Football Association has shown support for “Gaffer!”, a new play that deals with homophobia in sport. Written by Chris Chibnell, the play focuses on a football manager who struggles privately with his own homosexuality.

At a press conference, Chris Chibnell said,
“It's about a guy in a very closed world who discovers something that is not acceptable in that world. It's really about exploring that issue of homophobia, which is really the last taboo in football.”

Showing at London's Southwark Playhouse, the “black comedy” has received backing from The FA, who see it as a good way to stress that homophobia in football is now as unacceptable as racism.

The FA have already started up a hot line (0800 085 0508) for the public to report homophobic abuse at games. They have also launched a training scheme for referees on how to handle homophobia and stated that penalties will be levied against offending teams. Additionally, the FA is set to host discussion groups after the play, to help the audience discuss and debate the issues. The Professional Football Association (PFA) is also backing the initiative.

“The FA is committed to ensuring football is open to all sections of society without fear of abuse of any kind and The FA’s lead on combating homophobia has been applauded by other European football associations as well as sporting and campaigning groups,” it said in a statement.

Gaffer! will show at the Southwark Playhouse in London from the 13th-30th October.