Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A new season, same old story

A new season brings hope for supporters of every team up and down the country.

Brighton and Hove Albion are probably the one side in the country which have the most to smile about.

Promoted to the Championship last year as champions, they have finally moved into a new home 14 years after the controversial sale of their former home the Goldstone Ground.

But, one thing that does not change is the homophobic abuse that its fans get at seemingly every game.

Using Brighton's reputation as the gay capital of the UK for "inspiration", Leicester City fans spent much of the match reminding Seagulls fans of the large LGBT community that reside in their city.

"Town full of faggots" and "Does your boyfriend know your here?" were just two of the chants from a minority of Foxes fans aimed towards the travelling fans.

After posting news about the comments on Twitter there was plenty of reaction from supporters of both teams.

One Albion fan said: "It happens at every away game."

Another said: "It happens pretty much every game. Only way to react is with sarcasm. Away clubs do nothing about it coming from their fans."

This is not to say the Albion fans were completely innocent. In response, a number of its supporters resorted to chants.

One Leicester fan said: "We get racist abuse galore,that doesn't justify it but there are idiots everywhere.How do you win that battle?"

Another said: "There's no place for hurtful chants but sometimes the tamer songs are just a bit of banter which no one wants out of footy."
A third wrote: "very embarrassing for us real #lcfc fans. As embarrassing as the weekly racist abuse we receive. All clubs have idiots."

But as always, the reaction is not always positive.

One devoted Foxes fan replied: "shut up u dick the Brton fans were doing limp wrist salutes back the Leicester fans. Nothing in it at all."

Another said: "It's football, not ballet!!! If you aint happy don't go!!!"

It is perhaps these comments which sum up the battle facing campaigners. Any football fan knows that chants and humour is an integral part of the fan experience. At the prices that supporters have to pay these days it would be wrong to completely do away with this side of the game.

But there must be some action when clearly abusive behaviour is so evident.

Why do stewards not step in if this is such a regular occurrence?

A Norwich City - Ipswich Town game last year saw stewards step in and evict a fan who was leading a particularly nasty chant about the campaign's figurehead Justin Fashanu.

Any football fan who hears chants such as those listed above should not be afraid to report them to the football club.

If the club's a re made aware by those that pay the bills then they will have no option but to step in and take action.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Footballer or porn star? Only one of these industries accepts you for being gay

Ask any professional footballer and they will admit the hardest thing is deciding what to do on retirement.

Some remain close to the game, falling into roles such as coaching, management or punditry.

For many in the 1960s and 1970s the "in thing" was to run a pub or nightclub. Others take on roles such as postmen.

But one Belgian footballer has created quite a stir after hanging up his boots after announcing he has become a gay porn actor.

Jonathan de Falco resorted to the career change after sustaining an injury on the pitch.

Some may see it amusing that the former Racing Mechelen and Oud-Heverlee Leuven footballer has adopted the name Stany Falcone to appear in several adult movies.

But the reason for his change of track is a little worrying.

He told the Antwerp Gazette he hid his real sexuality while he was a footballer because: "The football world is not ready for gay players. There is too much prejudice and generally low tolerance.

"Since I was 20 I have been in gay circles, but when I played soccer, nobody noticed anything. If my orientation would have been known, there would have undoubtedly problems."

It is disappointing that de Flaco felt this way about the lack of support network within the game.

He is not the first footballer to admit that there is low tolerance for members of the LGBT community in the sport and sadly he will not be the last.

His new career is not the one most would chose but that is not say de Falco should be looked down on.

Ultimately his choice has given everyone with a say in the running of the game to think again. Why is it that a man can openly admit to being a porn star yet not want to admit to being a gay footballer?

It is a question that those in charge should not be afraid of answering honestly - something which de Falco has only been able to resort to after leaving the sport he truly loved.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Fifa's overture in women's game welcomed

Homophobia in football is not just limited to the men's game.

As the popularity of the women's game has grown across the globe, so has the need to confront and combat negative language to those part of the world's most popular sport.

For while football has long been accepted by those with an X chromosome, women were long looked down on for even making a passing remark about the game.

But times are changing as seen with the popularity and skill on display at this summer's World Cup in Germany.

Perhaps it is this which has encouraged Fifa to take steps against bigotry in the game.

According to reports, the governing body of world football has announced it will look into homophobia following anti-gay comments by the coach of Nigeria’s female team at the recent women’s World Cup.

As mentioned previously on this blog Eucharia Uche sparked controversy on the eve of the women's World Cup when she reportedly branded gays as “dirty” and “a problem”.

Fifa has now decided to investigate the comments and the wider issue of homophobia in the women’s game, according to gay group AllOut.org. Much of the credit for this work must go to this campaign group.

It organised a 45,000 signature petition, a sure sign of support on the issue, and a flash mob outside a stadium during the women’s World Cup in Germany which urged FIFA to act over Uche's comments.

Andre Banks, co-founder of AllOut.org said in a statement: “Today we are excited to see FIFA take a first, critical step. By launching an immediate probe into coach Uche’s homophobic statements, the international governing body of soccer is sending a clear and important message: homophobia has no place in football, on or off the field.”

The Justin Campaign wants to echo to sentiment echoed in this above statement. It seems finally Fifa has its head in the right place and realised that football can be a postive force for all. But first the authorities need to show those taking part in the beautiful game the sme commitment its supporters and players do.

With the support of the world's governing body and individual member nations the sport is certainly heading towards a game everyone can be proud of. If proven guilty, any action taken against Uche will certainly be a step in the right direction.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Lahm urges players not to come out

German international footballer Philipp Lahm, in his newly published autobiography “The Subtle Difference”, discusses homosexuality in football and ultimately concedes that gay players shouldn’t, at the present time, come out.

“I would not advise any gay professional footballer to come out,” he explains. “I would fear that he could end up like Justin Fashanu who, after he outed himself, was driven into such a corner that he ended up committing suicide.”

The Bayern Munich star’s comments are sure to provoke much debate, and the Justin Campaign would still hope that a gay player would feel able to be themselves and come out.

However, Lahm’s comments, while controversial, do raise the question – is football a comfortable and welcoming environment for LGBT players and fans?

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, the answer has to be no.

Thankfully the likes of The FA are now starting to properly tackle the issue, but for all parties concerned, there is still a long way to go.

Lahm himself made similar comments earlier this year, but his concerns are coming from the right place.

In 2008 from the Weimar Gay Triangle, a German LGBT rights organization, for his outspokenness against intolerance.

Therefore, however hard it may be to hear Lahm’s words, the Justin Campaign applauds the player for discussing the issue in public and adding an important voice to the debate.

Regular reading list: September 4

At regular intervals we will list a number of articles that have interested us at the Justin Campaign. Read on and follow links for the articles in full.

England's 3-0 away win in Bulgaria in the Euro Championships qualifying game was marred with the home fans directing racist chants at a number of England players. Here Henry Winter, of the Daily Telegraph, argues that footballing authorities need to get tougher on the issue.

The issue of homophobia in football is slowly reaching football fans across the world. Read the words on the issue from self-confessed football geek Alastair Moncrieff, from Fife, Scotland, here.

In recent months, there has been positive language to originate from key players in the Bundesliga about homophobia in football. So it was somewhat surprising to read the German national team's captain Philipp Lahm state in his autobiography that homosexual professional footballers should not come out. Read more