Thursday, 5 May 2011

Court dismisses discrimination suit against “no homosexuals” football president Vlatko Markovic

Keph Senett is a Canadian writer living in Mexico who’s proudly played soccer on four continents. You can read more from her at kephsenett.com. She’s part of the Communications team for The Justin Campaign.

Earlier this week judge Jasenka Grgic of the Zagreb county court rejected one of two discrimination cases filed against president of the Croatian Football Federation, Vlatko Markovic.

The complaint comes after Markovic made the following remarks: “While I’m a president of the Croatian Football Federation, there will be no homosexuals playing in the national team,” he said, adding that “only normal people play football.”

The incident resulted in two discrimination suits – one by the Center for LGBT Equality and another by Center for Peace Studies. According to the Croatian Times, Grgic felt that “direct discrimination” had not been proven. Further, the judge suggested that the suit was misdirected, and that an employment discrimination suit might be filed against the Federation, but not Markovic.

“We believe that the problem is very deep because Vlatko Markovic is the head of Croatian football, and sport – according to Law on Sports – must be equally accessible to all, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation,” said Marko Jurcic on behalf of the plaintiffs. The group has said they will appeal to the high courts.

The second suit is scheduled to be heard in June 2011.

Shortly after Markovic’s original remarks, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) opened a disciplinary case against Markovic, under Article 11 of its Disciplinary Code which obliges it to impose sanctions on any football association if an official “insults the human dignity of a person or group of persons”.

The matter was scheduled to be heard on November 25, 2010. If such a hearing took place, I can find no evidence of it, and in February of 2011, after a contentious election, both FIFA and the UEFA confirmed Markovic for a fourth term as Federation president.

The decisions of the courts aside, the UEFA has positioned itself as an organization with a commitment to equality. In 2008, the organization launched the Respect campaign, which “dovetails with programmes aimed at combating violence, racism, xenophobia and homophobia, as well as at nurturing fan support, intercultural dialogue, the environment and humanitarian relief.”

More recently, in mid-February, UEFA officially endorsed The Justin Campaign, a group dedicated to ending homophobia in football. The UEFA has the power and the policy to hold Markovic and the Croatian Football Federation accountable, and as a fan that’s committed to equality on and off the pitch, I want to see it happen.

Questions for the UEFA? Comments? The contact form for the UEFA is here.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks to Keph for reporting this. There's a little typo: November 2011 for November 2011.

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