Thursday, 30 December 2010

Football v Homophobia 2011

Only a month and a bit to go people.

For details on how you can observe Football v Homophobia 2011 click here.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Sign of the times.

Originally posted by Greg Theoharis.

In last week’s Dispatch, I did promise to write about something positive seeing that the soul of football has taken somewhat of a battering in the last few weeks. It might give you a better insight into my psyche that I find it easier to rail and wail against the wantonly amoral forces which seem to suck the lifeblood out of the game, rather than celebrating the good things but trust me, I will give you something positive to take away with you by the end of this post, in preparation for all the good tidings you will no doubt be wishing upon your fellow man over the coming days. You might have to read closely, but it’s there somewhere.

The week in football began with many of us shaking our heads in disbelief with the sheer flippancy and ignorance coming out of the ubiquitous Sepp Blatter’s mouth yet again. When FIFA’s president was questioned about the impact that Qatar’s banning of homosexuality might have on the already controversial choice of venue for the 2022 World Cup, Blatter caustically proclaimed that “they [gay fans] should refrain from any kind of sexual activity” whilst in the Middle Eastern state. I’m sure Blatter was not intentionally trying to cause offence, but his giggling mirrored by members of the press corps shone a further light on how football perceives the issue of homosexuality. Perhaps Blatter is still under the impression that all gay people can be encapsulated in the form of a 1970s sitcom in which they all mince about with limp wrists, lasciviously eyeing up anything in trousers whilst screaming out crass suggestive catchphrases like “Hello, Ducky” or “Chase me, chase me”. If he was so open to taking football to new frontiers as he so often likes to remind us, maybe he’d think carefully about trading on misguided stereotypes with a media, which by and large, although paying lip service to political correctness enjoys salivating over misconceived notions of sexuality.

By the end of the week however, the monumental news arrived from the US that the senate had finally voted to lift the controversial ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy which has forced so many servicemen and women to unnecessarily hide their sexuality because it was felt that such inclinations within an individual would damage morale during combat operations. Think about that concept for a moment. No, really, think.

There seems to be a prevalent perception amongst the ‘moral majority’ that homosexuality somehow equates with decadence and depravity and subsequently leads to the ruination of all that was fine and upstanding in the first place. A conversation down the pub (if we’re trading in clichés, we may as well do both sides) about gay footballers will inevitably throw up the argument of ‘well, I wouldn’t want to get showered around them, would you?’ Time and time again, footballers are derided if they show any kind of assumed femininity. David Beckham was ridiculed for wearing Alice bands and sarongs, Graeme Le Saux was mocked and has his sexuality questioned for having the audacity to read The Guardian. On the playground every day, I hear boys throwing the ‘gay’ epithet at each other as a way of provoking a negative reaction. I have a student who recently said, ‘yes, I am’ to such taunts. And guess what? The taunting just dissipated.

All it takes is for one footballer to make that statement; ‘yes, I am’. I appreciate that it is easier said than done, considering the tragedy that befell Justin Fashanu who was forced to ‘come out’, twenty years ago. However, despite what the dinosaurs like Blatter and The Man Down The Pub might believe, the world has changed since Fashanu’s time. When that footballer does decide to bite the bullet and tell us he is gay (and only when he is ready to), then he will have a whole host of support from supporter’s groups, prominent and progressive sporting bodies and hopefully from a squad of his team-mates who’ll value his sporting excellence over his choice of sexual partner. Is Wayne Rooney’s procurement and payment of heterosexual sex really more acceptable than the same-sex relationship that Footballer X finds himself in?

One such organisation is The Justin Campaign which was founded in remembrance of Fashanu’s suicide and seeks to combat and eradicate all aspects of homophobia which still remain prevalent in the game. Through educational workshops and the Justin Fashanu All-Stars football team, the campaign seeks to pressure football’s governing bodies to foster an environment in which gay, lesbian and bisexual people do not feel the need to hide who they are or fear discrimination. By focusing on grassroots, it is hoped that such issues will not even be issues in the coming years. As Jason Hall, the Campaign’s founding director says:

“Justin Fashanu forced the world of football to acknowledge that you can love men, whilst at the same time be a world-class footballer. His bravery has created inroads for our community in the football world and has inspired a generation of gay and bisexual men, who now believe that we too, can be part of the beautiful game.”

Justin Fashanu might be considered the pioneer in that regard. What the game of football now needs, is a watershed. I wrote about football being in the midst of its Dark Ages a couple of weeks ago. That may be the case, but in 2010, the inability by some in the game to accept that it is not the exclusive domain of the heterosexual just as in years past, it was not the exclusive domain of the white man, needs to be challenged, dispelled and nullified as quickly as possible. If you’re a brilliant footballer, you’re a brilliant footballer regardless. Likewise, if my gran is a better penalty-taker than you, then you must be truly dreadful - whether you fancy men or not. Football really is a simple game.

Merry Christmas, one and all, wherever and whoever you are.

You can read Greg's wicked blog @ Dispatches From A Football Sofa


Football v Homophobia is as much about inclusion and the celebration of the diversity in the LGBT community as it is about demonstrating against homophobia in football.

This year The Justin Campaign wanted to ensure that Bi and Trans communities internationally feel represented and empowered by Football v Homophobia and that they feel the global initiative is relevant to their own cause.

And so.. The Justin Campaign this year are proud to present two unique variations of the world renowned Football v Homophobia logo:

The JC team look forward to hearing of Trans & Bi inclusive events springing up globally as the LGBT community strives for recognition and inclusion in the game that we love.

In the next few weeks the new Football v Homophobia website will be launched - Logo's will be free to download from the website at that time.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Football for all?

Fifa president Sepp Blatter's philosophy is clearly emblazoned across the footballing authority's website.

"Football for all; all for football".

Strange then that such a media-savvy head of a multimillion pound industry should make a mockery of the gay rights issue to a room full of reporters.

Blatter joked that gay people should simply "refrain from any sexual activities" during the Qatar 2022 World Cup so as to avoid draconian punishments.

His comments have since been widely reported and Blatter has rightly spent the last few days defending his misguided and downright offensive comments to the world's media.

It is yet further evidence that leadership on the subject is not going to come from world football's governing body.

Fifa has long come under fire as being an authority with more security guards than common sense.

It makes most of its decisions behind closed doors in the glamorous surroundings of Geneva and, as the BBC Panorama documentary proved recently, any challenge to its hierarchy is regarded as blasphemous.

It is a strange situation for Blatter to be in, given that he is more used to blowing his own trumpet.

The reason the much-more impressive and practical bids from England and Australia were overlooked for 2018 and 2022 respectively was due to his vision of a "global game".

Surely it would be more fitting for a global game to promote equality rather than alienating tens of thousands of fans and players who may feel they are being driven away from the sport they love.

We have already said that a boycott of Qatar 2022 is not the answer.

But, would you feel comfortable travelling to a country where your sexuality could see be publicly beaten or thrown in prison?

Now is the time for us to highlight these issues - write a letter, contact your local decision makers, get involved with the Justin Campaign - all these things can help make a difference and hopefully reclaim football from the authorities who quite clearly do not promote the ethos "football for all".

Boycotting Qatar is not the answer

A version of this article first appeared on the Morning Star's website -

Boycotting the World Cup in 2022 is not the answer for LGBT supporters angry at Fifa for awarding the event to Qatar.

That was the message today from Jason Hall - founding director of The Justin Campaign, which aims to rid football of homophobia.

"We should encourage LGBT people to go over to Qatar and rub salt in the wounds," said Hall. "There's no point shunning it (the World Cup) and pretending it doesn't exist."

The Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) last week called for an LGBT boycott of "all activities associated with World Cup 2022."

However, Hall believes that the issue of gay rights in Qatar would simply be swept under the carpet if LGBT fans chose not to attend.

"There's a lot less to talk about if we (LGBT people) aren't there," Hall said. "But if thousands of us head over, it would make a lot more impact than simply saying: 'Well, we're not going.'

"It wouldn't register with the wider community if we didn't go. And at least people in Qatar will experience gay people in their country and it would give hope to LGBT people living there. I would love something like the Gay Games or another gay sporting event to be held in Qatar at the same time as the World Cup."

He added: "If taking some lashings and getting six months in prison is the price I have to pay, then so be it."

"The World Cup didn't go to South Africa during the apartheid years and it shouldn't go to Russia or Qatar now.

"There is a sexual apartheid taking place in Qatar right now, and Russia's not much better - they have a terrible record there with regards to LGBT rights. To give World Cups to countries where apartheid is still happening is unacceptable."

Friday, 10 December 2010

A losing battle?

A key aspect of The Justin Campaigns work is to challenge the negative stereotypes around LGBT people in society and in particular, sport.

Negative stereotypes that portray gay men as weak, effeminate and promiscuous are all to common in society. They are perpetuated throughout our education system, our industry and our media.

Is it really possible to counter negative stereotyping around LGBT people effectively? How can we impact upon the problem adequately when the exposure of our youth to these stereotypes is an everyday fact of life, one that we seemingly have no control over?

One solution might be to engage our youth with more positive representations of LGBT people that reveal our diversity and our strengths. Positive representations that reveal the contradictions that exist between the stereotype and the real person.

But are one off classroom sessions enough?

Does the occasional football coaching session, where young men & women are introduced to gay and bisexual coaches, contrary to familiar stereotypes, help to the debunk entrenched ideas about who gay and bisexual people are?

Possibly, but what happens afterwards, when our children turn on their computers or their TV's, go to the cinema, read the paper, a magazine, a book....

Is all our hard work undone?

The fact is that these stereotypes, the building blocks for hatred against LGBT people in society, are pervasive throughout our media. A media which relies on the heterosexual logic of its audience to provoke laughter at the expense of LGBT people.

Collective efforts to educate children on the fallacy of such stereotypes are welcome and should continue but these efforts need to be combined with proper strategy and actions that hold our media to account on their portrayal of LGBT people.

Perhaps then, after engaging our youth on the pitch and giving them a run for their money we can rest assured that they head home to some positive reinforcement rather than the negative portrayal of LGBT people they face day after day.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Third Justin Fashanu Cup deemed great success

Dozens of footballers united in a tournament which was truly representative of all aspects of the beautiful game.

Twelve teams from across the south of England took part in the the third annual Justin Fashanu Cup.

The invitational tournament, which was organised by the Justin Campaign, saw both men and women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community all participating.

The event was also a protest against the decision of Fifa to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively - countries which have appalling records on homophobia.

The highlight of the weekend event in Hove was a six-a-side tournament.

Despite the wintry weather, which forced a number of teams to pull out, nine men's teams and three women's teams took part in the indoor competition.

BN Elite won the men's tournament and The Tigers won the female competition.

On the Saturday evening, all the teams gathered to take part in a table football competition and enjoyed an evening of live music.

Jason Hall, founder of the Justin Campaign said: "It was a terrific event. One which was truly representative of all people who love football.

"It was brilliant to see so many people enjoy themselves while promoting such an important issue.

"With the Fifa announcement it was also right that we brought to attention the awful human rights records of both Russia and Qatar and the effect it would have on members of the LGBT community who may want to travel to be spectators at this event."

The tournament will now become a travelling competition with the next event likely to be held in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

For more pictures stay tuned to the blog or see our Flickr page.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Justin Campaign statement on FIFA's decision to award Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 World Cups

The Justin Campaign is deeply concerned by FIFA's decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Both of these countries have extremely poor records on the issue of LGBT rights. Only last year, the mayor of Moscow deemed a gay pride march in the capital as "satanic", while participants in the march, including Peter Tatchell, were arrested.

In Qatar, homosexuality is still illegal with both lashes and imprisonment often the punishment.

Therefore, despite their apparent commitment to humanitarian values and the promotion of global solidarity through football, FIFA is sending out a message loud and clear that the rights of the global LGBT community do not even register on their agenda.

This institutional indifference to the rights of LGBT people is symptomatic of the challenge facing all of us who are fighting against homophobia in football and it is a stark and sad reminder of just how much work we still need to do.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Justin Fashanu - a figurehead.

Further to our original post which referenced an incredibly comprehensive article by Juliet Jacques on the career of Justin Fashanu, we thought that this interview with Fash might be of interest to you.

Its an incredible interview which illustrates how Fashanu was affected by his "coming out". This piece was filmed in 1992 six years before Fashanu tragically took his own life.

His confidence and strength here is in stark contrast to how he must of been feeling in 1998. Perhaps indicative of how the burden of homophobia, an obvious obstacle for him in 1992 became just to much to bare five years later.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Poet's Corner - Ian Bradley Marshall

Ian Bradley Marshall is a former police officer and RAF serviceman turned lawyer and writer. Here he pens a poem about a young man who recently came out to his mum.

Ian who had not come out when Justin Fashanu died said he remembers "not only the shock, but the media, the backlash - here a decade on, still the same prejudice in professional football".



I'm seventeen
my life before me
but the shit's hit the fan
because I came out to me Mam

My mates say I'm a fraud
I've tricked 'em
and should've come clean
but how the hell could I
when what I am
I didn't even know myself
until now?

And how could I anyway
after Pastor's sermon
the other day?
He says I'm on my way to hell
a one way ticket
and when I tried to argue back
he quoted Romans 1
to prove his point

I can't be bothered to argue
I'm only seventeen
but deep inside me
I don't feel unclean
I don't accept I'm finished

Okay - maybe I did ask
for the smack round the 'ed
but I stood my ground instead;
and the cut lip
broken nose
cracked rib
are worth the price
for those who
made the ultimate sacrifice

I'm a winger, centre-forward
and right full back too
Well that was last week
this week - persona non grata

So, no, in answer
to your question
I'm not gonna give in
I'm gonna stand and fight
here on the beach
and by six tonight
I know a few more
will stand with me
for word has got out
and then I'm leaving

Yeah? Yeah!

Tony, the bully
nineteen and nasty
saw me on the platform
stubbed his ciggie in the wall
spat on the ground
veered away from the gang
and made a bee line for me
cheered by all and sundry

I saw his boots
Not nice
I knew I was in for a battering
He spat again
and the gob hit the ground between my trainers
his gang cheered him
and jeered at me
laughing like hyenas

I winced, yeah fuck,
of course I did
This is Tony
He's shit hot
the bully
the gangleader

YOU! Cum ere!!
He grabbed my shirt
I'm 5'10
He's 6'4
No contest
I smelled his breath
Actually, it was kinda okay
I winced to brace myself
for the punch
the knee in the groin
followed by the imprint
of his boot on the cheek,
his trademark

LISTEN! Act tough
Go on. Stand up!
Stop shaking kiddo
I know where you're coming from
And you just promise me one thing
You personally let me know
of any shit you get into
just coz who you are.
I like you.
You're a good kid
Resist 'em mate
Take no notice of those twats
I won't let anyone lay a finger
on yer

Ya got that?
.... Yeah.... Toe...Tony

Hey stop stuttering
you're making me nervous!
Me mates call me that
It's my second name
But you?
You call me Gav
Yeah Gav.
That's what me Mam calls me, see.

As Toe, no Gav, turned
there were no jeers no cheers
just bewilderment and shuffling feet
on the cold grey platform
opposite Newcastle Metro
my new mate pressed my hand
made as if to punch my side
but tapped heavily my pocket
and was gone.

As he looked back
he spat and shouted for all to hear
'So remember lad. You've been warned!'

An instant cheer and loads of jeers
but they didn't see the wink of the eye
the gleam of light that flashed brilliant
from within him
I was shaking

As the train accelerated out of the station
leaving behind a life
prejudice and name-calling

I hadn't got a clue where I was going
but resting my hand on my side
still aching from Gav's last pseudo-thump
something else
I reached into the pocket
and pulled out
two fifty quid notes
and a fucking post it note
in a scrawl!

It's all I've got mate
some overtime at Tesco
You need it more than me
Just stay in touch
And come back soon
And a smiley!

You know there are friends
and there are also friends
who stick closer than a brother
And that's in the Bible!


Monday, 29 November 2010

Justin: a figurehead and a footballer

The Justin Campaign is extremely proud to have Justin Fashanu as its figurehead.

Yet, apart from the cruel and tragic way his life ended, not much is known about Justin the person, Justin the footballer and Justin the entertainer.

Here Juliet Jacques talks about Justin's short time playing for Torquay - an unfashionable side which is based in a Devon seaside resort.

This brilliant article is just a small insight into what made Justin tick and how he handled the abuse which came his way, not only for being gay but also for being black.

Perhaps this is why others have not followed in his footsteps?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

It's not just for men

Homophobia in sport is something which affects the whole of the LGBT community.

One of the most frequently asked questions to the Justin Campaign is if we represent the lesbian, bisexual and trans community.

Our view is simple: This is not just about campaigning for one group in society, it is about making football more accessible to everyone.

This is because bigotry and discrimination is apparent at all levels and across the world.

Just take a look at this example.

Augustine Makalakalane, the coach of the South African women's football team, is the subject of claims that he sexually assaulted two of his players.

Several members of the team, which clearly does not respect the man leading them, also claim the 46-year-old said he only wanted “straight ladies in his team”.

The reasons behind these allegations will no doubt come out in due course as the officials investigate.

Following the comments of Croatian FA boss Markovic, once again we are seeing a nation which has relied on sport to give it a sense of independence fail itself on equality grounds.

In a country still recovering from the apartheid regime, football in South Africa has been a uniting movement culminating successfully in this summer's World Cup.

Many of the officials heading the game have witnessed discrimination first hand, which is why it is so shocking to hear such claims coming from members of the women's national team.

If it turns out that these allegations are true then we hope the South African FA take the right steps and remove Makalakalane from his post and, if the crimes are bad enough, ban him from the game.

Homophobia alive and kicking at FA Cup tie

GUEST BLOG - Lindsay is a football fan and blogger based in Manchester. Here she talks about her views on homophobic chants during an FA Cup reply game featured on national television.

Blue Square South side Woking earned a reply against Brighton and Hove Albion on November 16, the game was televised live in ESPN. Four goals in a two-all draw, then three penalties sufficed for Brighton to go through.

Nothing out of order there you might think, but those like myself who pick up on the ever increasing amount of discrimination in the game these days and who watched the coverage or who attended will have a lasting memory of the abuse given out throughout the night from the home fans.

The abuse has been picked up and highlighted on a number of football websites and blogs by fans of both teams, but this is an all too common a tale of what goes on at many of today's matches.

A number of flares and smoke bombs were thrown onto the pitch and "run from the students, you only run from the students." was chanted at the police and security presence, this may have been the witty start of things but as is all too common when BHA play the opposition fans just can't help themselves to shout homophobic abuse and chants.

The cards may well be governed by conference rules and regulations, rather than the FA regs there are in the top four professional leagues (the ground quite possibly coming under nothing more than a public area) but surely its time their own administration took action against those who saw fit to disrupt the evenings entertainment as it wasn't a one off.

Homophobic chanting could be heard quite clearly on the TV coverage, as well as by those at the game.

"We can see you holding hands" and "Does you're boyfriend know you're here" Followed by "Do you take it up the ####" and "Does your father know you're QUEER" were order of the day.

Tame you may think to some of the chanting of abuse around someones sexuality but this comes only days after two well known names in the professional game from Croatia have stated "there will be no homosexual players on the team while i am in charge" - comments which should see UEFA (under pressure from gay rights groups and the likes of EGLSF and FARE) finally make a stand against this type of discrimination that adorns football globally.

Administrators of the game in the FA, PL, FL, PFA, LMA along with the REFS ASS, and government, police and fans need to clampdown on this behaviour in every way they can so that anyone regardless of sexual orientation feels safe and comfortable to play, coach and watch football in which ever environment they chose.


Read more of Lindsay's thoughts at

Thursday, 25 November 2010

A hollow apology

Just wanted to reflect on the apology statement made by Vlatko Markovic, the president of the Croatian football association.

The misguided figurehead caused enormous controversy when he told a newspaper that he would "certainly" not permit a gay player on the Croatian national team.

But, after facing the wrath of LGBT groups including the Justin Campaign, a few days later Markovic apologised for the comments.

His statement on the association's website said: "It was not my intention whatsoever to insult or hurt anyone. I have nothing against members of any minority, least of all against those of same-sex orientation.
"Once again, I apologize to all those who were hurt."

While it must be welcomed that an apology has been made, it must be asked if Markovic really means what is attributed to him.

Do people's view really change at the click of the fingers?

On the surface this appears to be a manufactured view which was initiated not by the official but by backroom staff in a public affairs exercise.

If he had really meant it, then surely a more public apology would have been made.

Whatever happened behind the scenes we must hope that actually the Croatian FA, and other footballing authorities, have learned from this ugly episode and, instead of its officials spouting bigoted soundbites, work will be done to promote the sport to all members of society.

Ultimately, this would mean more to fans and players than a well-thought out public affairs exercise.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Must be something in the German water

German football has long been overlooked by fans in other countries.

Despite its national team reaching the later stages of a plethora of international competitions, its communal approach to ownership of teams, and reasonable admissions prices, supporters don't quite rate the Bundesliga as much as its English, Spanish or Italian counterpart.

Yet, the players in the German league seem way ahead of its more "glamorous" rivals in one area - that of LGBT inclusion.

For years Hamburg-based St Pauli have proved that it not only what happens on the field which makes a club great.

Behind the banner of a skull and crossbones and with its fan base of punks, prostitutes and political activists, it helped bring the anti-racism and anti-homophobia agenda to the footballing table.

But it is not just a small corner of Germany's second largest city which is promoting equality within the world's favourite sport.

Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez has urged gay colleagues to come out.

In an interview with celebrity magazine Bunte, the German international said homosexuality was treated as a "taboo topic" in mens' sports.

"They would then play as though they'd been unshackled," the 25-year-old added.

"We have a gay Vice-Chancellor, Berlin's mayor is gay - professional football players should commit to their inclination," Gomez said.

They are refreshing words to come from such a high-profile player.

After all this is the player who is a former German soccer player of the year, a player who is still revered in Stuttgart for his goals which brought the side the Bundesliga in 2006/7.

Much like Florent Malouda, the reasons for the statement from Gomez is open to debate.

To speculate on his motives would be to simply discredit what is a positive statement to promoting equality within the world's favourite sport.

What is not speculative is that Gomez has been extremely brave in making the comments.

Despite his position as an established international, he has yet to live up to his hefty price tag for Bayern Munich.

Bavaria is also not exactly known as a place of open liberal thought so quite how the fans at the Allianz Arena will greet them will be interesting to see.

What makes them braver is that they come after international teammate Tim Wiese warned in April that any gay player who revealed his sexuality would be ridiculed by "merciless fans".

Additionally, Bayern teammate Philipp Lahm told Playboy last year that the pressure would be too great for players to be openly homosexual.

While it is clear how we feel about this, the important thing is that in Germany they are actually having a debate.

This is sort of public discourse that needs to happen in every country as if people keep on shying away from something it will never fully be tackled.

For that we praise all those professionals who are actively discussing the issue in Germany. On this issue, much like the single currency, it appears the Germans are leading the way.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

GUEST BLOG: Society has moved on, right? Wrong!

Football fans across the world experience homophobic behaviour during football on a regular basis. In the first of our guest blog entries, Lianne, a football fan and blogger, talks about her own shock of witnessing abuse first hand.

On Sunday I was down at my local pub watching the Liverpool game against Chelsea - the first match I’ve managed to catch since the season began. An excellent result for a suffering Reds fan, but something else troubled me about the afternoon.

Part way through the match I became aware of two kids sitting behind me. The oldest couldn’t have been more than ten, but they both were well-versed in all the usual match rituals – bravado, tribalism and noisiness.

Among the shrill cries of ‘Go on Drog!’ and ‘we’re gonna get you!”, something really threw me off-kilter…

“TORRES IS A POOF!” shortly followed by “Yeah, Torres is GAY and he has a BOYfriend!”.

Finding myself uncharacteristically speechless, I had no reaction but turn round slowly, mouth gaping, before eventually turning to face the front again. I’m ashamed to say I did nothing further.

In part it was because I was met with challenging glares and mutterings from the boys in question, but also I became acutely aware of my own situation as the only non-white person in the pub, as well as one of the few women and there alone. Even if I hadn’t felt so vulnerable myself, where would you begin to challenge such behaviour?

Do you start by explaining that ‘there’s nothing wrong with’ being gay or having any other sexual orientation? Or do you attempt to tackle the more fundamental point that it’s offensive to use terms referring to sexuality as insults? Having never openly experienced homophobic behaviour, I didn’t even know where to start.

More than anything, I think I was stunned because I must have assumed that this kind of thing just doesn’t happen any more. We are in the twenty-first century. Society has moved on from those prejudices, right?


Football is a beautiful but often peculiar game. In some ways it’s very backwards, and I don’t just mean by the neo-Luddite refusal to use video refs. I’m sure it’s something to do with the fact that to many fans it’s keystone of perceived male identity. As with many things, anything that upsets the balance is hounded out so that those doing the abusing can feel confident about themselves.

We (generally) accept that racist abuse is no longer acceptable, and this is probably partly due to significant numbers of high-profile non-white players. The logic is that it would take similarly big stars to ‘come out’ for the fan culture around football to change.

However while the behaviour I saw on Sunday is inculcated in pre-pubescent fans, it’s hardly an open and progressive environment for players to come forward.

Homophobic abuse cannot and should not be accepted, and I know what to do if there is a next time.

Read Lianne's blog at

Do you want to blog for the Justin Campaign? Get in touch on


The Ultimate Equal Ground.

The day before yesterday, Vlatko Markovic, president of the Croatian Football Federation, declared “[w]hile I’m a president of the Croatian Football Federation, there will be no homosexuals playing in the national team.” According to the Croatian Times, Markovic rounded out the insult with this spit-take of a comment: ”Luckily, only normal people play football.”

I’m pretty sure that like me, you’ve all been cozied up in the comfortable loving embrace of the “It Gets Better” campaign videos. They’re enormously sensitive, thoughtful and effective – and seemingly endless. LGBT people and allies have had a lot to be proud of in these past weeks, and we’ve got thousands of kilometres of tape to prove it.

But people like Markovic aren’t getting the memo, or video, so it’s up to us remind them that our place is every place, especially the football pitch. Football is the people’s game; the pitch is the people’s place. Even at the national team level, where players enjoy the status of demi-gods and investors throw endless pots of gold at “their” teams, the game still belongs to the people, and the people will play.

Markovic is a rich and powerful bully, but he doesn’t get to say who kicks about and who doesn’t, who’s normal and who isn’t. Because when it comes right down to it, we’re all mad – absolutely crazy – for this game.

Last year Brighton-based anti-homophobia organization The Justin Campaign launched the inaugural Football v Homophobia Initiative and the response was overwhelming. Using mostly word-of-mouth marketing and volunteer labour, the Initiative gained enough traction to have events take place in eight countries.

As an out and proud footballer, I see the Initiative as our very own “It Gets Better” campaign. I believe in the unifying power of sport, and that making sure that the pitches of the world – at recreational, competitive, and yes, even national levels – are safe and welcoming places for allplayers is a way of making it better right here, right now.

So this coming February strap on your cleats, peeps. Not a player? Then organize your event, have your fund raiser, or wear your pink and black scarves or shirts to support the Football v Homophobia Initiative. Just make sure you come out and help us prove that the pitch is the ultimate equal ground.

“This year’s event will be bigger, better, louder and prouder,” promises Darren Ollerton, director of the Justin Campaign. For more information on how to get your Initiative observance off the ground, and to request promotional posters, flyers, banners and stickers, contact organizers at

Keph Senett is a Canadian writer living in Mexico who’s proudly played soccer on four continents. She’s the Communications Officer for The Justin Campaign.

Article originally posted on Red Card Homophobia.

Monday, 8 November 2010

This man must resign

Every now and then you read something that makes you feel ill.

In an interview in his home country, Vlatko Markovic, the president of the Croatian Football Association stated there was no place for homosexuals in the national side.

His exact comments were: "While I'm president...there will be no homosexuals playing in the national team.

"Luckily only normal people play football."

How such a vile bigot could reach such a prominent position is beyond the Justin Campaign.

This is such a massive step backwards for the whole movement to rid the beautiful game of homophobia.

The authorities in this country must sit up and take notice and put sanctions on the Croatian FA.

Any authority exhibiting such a prejudiced stance to any group should be seriously reprimanded. Further sporting tours of Croatia should be put under review until a full and comprehensive apology (or indeed, resignation) is secured from Vlatko Markovic.

The Justin Campaign will shortly present a petition requesting Markovic issue such an apology. Stay tuned for further details.

Rossi admits he's a bit of a Twit

Footballers are well versed in the art of social media and regularly turn to Twitter to register their post match thoughts.

But former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi took his post-match rant a little far when he called a football fan "a homo" on the internet.

The American born Italian striker was writing after his current side Villarreal thrashed Athletic Bilbao 4-1 this weekend.

After being provoked by an American fan, Rossi replied by writing: "I know for a fact this homo (@twitter user) would never say these things in my face."

The twitter user retorted: "Betrays your country + responds to taunts + homosexual slurs = #notreallyatrue professional."

The next few hours saw dozens of people write to Rossi on the social media site complaining of his language.

Rossi later apologised for his behaviour writing: "I realised how unprofessional and ignorant my comment was by using the word homo...sorry if I offended anyone...I truly apologise."

It is clear from his reply that Rossi was clearly responding in anger and his comments were a made on the spur of the moment.

However, this does not excuse him from making homophobic remarks.

At the touch of a button they were widely spread and broadcast to more than 50,000 people in the Twittersphere.

Rossi knew what he was saying but did not think of the meaning of the word - it was meant as a purely derogatory retort to somebody who did he agree with.

It is a clear example that homophobic language is rife in the game. Footballers need to set an example.

To display homophobic hate in a vile mud slinging contest is simply unacceptable.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Last year, the initiative was observed in eight countries!! Football matches and tournaments sprang up all over the globe with fans and communities everywhere uniting under the banner of “Football v Homophobia” for the first ever;

International day opposing homophobia in football.

This year it’s going to get bigger, better, louder and prouder than before.

This post outlines some of the ways that you, your club, team or organisation can celebrate "Football v Homophobia".

Don’t forget to get in touch with The Justin Campaign to request promotional materials, such as posters, flyers, banners and stickers to promote your event effectively.

Our brand new spanking "Football v Homophobia" website is due to be launched in the next few weeks, contact us before January 19th 2011 to get your event listed and then send us your stories and images afterwards for everyone to see!

See below, keep us informed and have a great day!

The Justin Campaign team.

Football v Homophobia 2011.

Football v Homophobia is as much about having fun as it is about demonstration and protest. We want the world to know that the global LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans) community is as much a part of the beautiful game as anyone else (and if they don't believe us.... we can give them a good game to prove it!)

Organise a match or even a tournament in your local area! Contact your local newspapers/radio stations/football clubs/football authorities and get them involved!

Get everyone involved!!

Circulate news of "Football v Homophobia" to other football teams/community groups/colleges/universities/local government/politicians in the area.

Blog us, Tweet us, Facebook us, Use our pre-designed email signature to include in your email communications (downloadable from our website)

Tell your friends, your relatives, your colleagues, your boss and anyone that will listen!

Our Media & Communications Team are on call to give you advice & guidance on what to say and who to say it to!

Two left feet?

If you aren't the playing type but are a dedicated fan then assert your right to enjoy a football match without being intimidated by torrents of homophobic abuse from others and vocalise your support for your teams players that are subjected to such abuse on a weekly basis.

If you're not into Football, so what? Homophobia is an issue for everyone and therefore, tackling homophobia in football will have a positive impact on wider society!

Download our pre-written letter and send it to your local politician demanding more pressure be put on football authorities to end homophobia in football.

Organise a raffle, a quiz, a sponsored bike ride, a sponsored swim, a sponsored walk even! All donations will be put directly back into the development of "Football v Homophobia."

Make it interesting! Make it Diverse!

Football v Homophobia is about uniting all communities, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, disability and background in opposing homophobia in the game, so contact other community football teams, such as teams from different ethnic backgrounds, teams that may have disabilities or other teams from leagues in your area and involve them in your plans.

Tell us about you! Tell us about what your doing!

Send in your plans, your stories, your details and your pictures by January 19th 2011 and we will showcase everyone’s hard work on the "Football v Homophobia" website.

Find out more about Football v Homophobia 2010.

For general information contact us at

To contact our media team for advice and guidance on promoting your observance contact:

For Corporate sponsor details or official endorsement enquiries contact:

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Education is key

In contrast to the last post, a London school claims to have eradicated homophobic bullying.

How? By informing youngsters of the truth and offering classes on diversity.

Kids are not stupid but they are products of their upbringing.

One of the reasons behind homophobic bullying in schools - two thirds of LGBT students claim to have been afffected - is because of a lack of education.

Until people learn about equality and celebrate important historical figures such as Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde, this will remain a serious issue.

This is why the Justin Campaign puts education as one of its major projects in the coming months.

A DVD about homophobic bullying will be available in February for use in schools.

We believe that football is a great tool to reach a wide variety of students on issues like homophobia.

Perhaps combined with the work displayed in Stoke Newington, huge steps could be taken to eradicating homophobia from all aspects our education system.

Is this really the message we want to be putting across to children?

Don't ask me how but our attention has been drawn to the children's TV programme Peppa Pig.

Apparently this is one of the most popular shows for pre-school children (and their stay-at-home parents) and now shown in 180 countries.

This episode, posted below in full, took on the challenge of washing a dirty white football shirt.

When a red dress ends up in the machine, it turns the rest of the clothes pink.

The dialogue is a clear indication of the simple attitudes towards football.

"Pink is not a very good colour for a football shirt", says Mummy Pig.

Why not? - take a quick look at the kit of the Justin Fashanu Allstars and tell me that does not belong on the football field.

I'm sure fans of Everton and Palermo agree with us.

But it gets worse.

When the father returns home he is handed the shirt and says: "That's not mine, that is one of mummy's dresses."

Sure this is a children's TV show aimed at the mass market and trying to get across simple messages about how the world works.

But have we not outgrown these traditional outdated dividing lines between the sexes which is more akin to the 1950s?

If the above messages are put in front of children at a young age, they very quickly become embedded as fact.

This makes change all the more difficult in the long run.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Finally some honesty

Waking up this morning to a phone filled with unanswered texts and emails it was clear something had happened.

The reason: a frank and brutally honest interview by Chelsea's French winger Florent Malouda.

For those of you who have not seen the comments, they have been reproduced in full below.

When asked about homophobia in football he said:

"Before people couldn't even speak about that like they were rejecting it and saying it is not existing.

"People who do it are wrong, hiding behind religion to explain their behaviour against gays, but you have to accept people as they are and once you understand that, you understand our differences are our strength."

To reiterate, this is THE Florent Malouda, one of the best players in the world.

The significance of a top player admitting the denigration of people because of their sexuality cannot be understated.

Credit must also be given to the press team at Chelsea who did not think "oh no we cannot possibly publish this" but actually allowed a player to speak his mind.

Could it be that football club's attitudes are becoming more aligned to the rest of society?

In the interview, which focused on Kick It Out's One Game, One Community week of action, the eloquent Malouda was also very frank about fighting racism on the terraces.

He stated: "You have to prove to others they are wrong and don't accept it. You have to face these people and even if it is a battle, if you have to struggle, you have to prove that there is only one race and that they are wrong to doubt you.

"You have to speak about it. You cannot act like it does not exist."

These are statements about equality which have not been heard before from such a high profile player.

Quite why Malouda felt the need to issue such strong statements is not known.

The recent protesting in France shows that our Gallic cousins do things a little differently when it comes to disagreements with the authorities.

Perhaps it was Malouda, who was brought up in South America, feels he wants to give something back to the beautiful game to which he owes so much.

Or maybe the winger has witnessed homophobic abuse first hand.

It might just be that he sees now - he's 30, in the best form of his life and captain of his adopted country - as the right time to speak his mind.

Whatever the reason perhaps the tide, at last, is turning.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

These are a few of our favourite things...

A little off track from our usual blogging, just had to write a few words about this article.


It highlights two of the campaign's favourite themes united in one news story: equality and grassrooots campaigning.

Ireland has long been a bastion of Roman Catholicism and the fact that a gay man is even in the running for the President is a real sign that the country is close to shedding its conservative tag.

Add the fact that Senator David Norris only put himself forward after garnering support on social network site Facebook, it is proof that the age of the internet means any campaign can snowball into real change.

The Justin Campaign is a grassroots movement, one that has grown through mediums such as facebook and twitter.

We are committed to ensuring that, in Senator Norris' words, sexuality becomes a "non-issue".

If Ireland votes a gay man to become president then surely eradicating homophobia from football is not too far away...

Monday, 18 October 2010

The ugly game

Fans of international football will no doubt be aware of the crowd trouble at the Italy - Serbia game last week.

Quite what the cause behind the hatred was is still not clear. But the spiteful, thuggish and tribal nature of the violence sums up why all members of society - not just members of the LGBT community -feel threatened by football.

The fact that some of this hate was directed at their own goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic surley indicates these were mindless vandals far right-wing activists rather than football fans.

It would not be wrong to assume the same people lighting flares were among those clashing with police at the recent gay pride march in Belgrade.

The losers from this violence will be the Serbian FA and its football team. They will be the ones punished with a hefty fine and possible exclusion from the championship.

It is up to the authorities to take control and prosecute some of these violent troublemakers to preserve the sport's reputation.

Look at the UK in the 1980s - it is possible.

But until Serbia - and other countries in former Eastern Bloc - do this the beautiful game will continue to be described as the ugly game by a large number.