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!

READ MORE FROM IAN AT http://ianbradleymarshall.com/default.aspx

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 http://justaballgame.blogspot.com

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 http://weleftmarks.wordpress.com.

Do you want to blog for the Justin Campaign? Get in touch on info@thejustincampaign.com.


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 info@thejustincampaign.com.

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 info@thejustincampaign.com

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


For Corporate sponsor details or official endorsement enquiries contact: