Sunday, 27 November 2011
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
For years the little Pacific island was known as being the country which lost 31-0 to Australia in a World Cup qualifying game.
But now there have been two major breakthroughs. Firstly the country officially last in the Fifa rankings has won its first game. Secondly, and more importantly, was the appearance of defender Johnny Saelua.
He is believed to be the first transgender athlete to compete in a World Cup qualifying match.
Media reports say Saelua is part of the fa’afafine, biological males who identify as a third sex that is widely accepted in Polynesian culture.
He is reported as saying: “The team accept me and we have that mutual respect - which is great. It’s all part of the culture.”
This marks a truly important step in football history. Transgender athletes have long had difficulties in playing any sport, something which is discriminatory and simply wrong.
One only needs to remember the media storm surrounding 800m runner Caster Semenya to see the simplistic view that many have on the issue.
Saelua's appearance shows that the views in global football are becoming more accepting to those who belong to the LGBT community.
The comments of American Samoa's coach Thomas Rongen were perhaps less helpful to this ongoing battle but do ask an important question. He said: “I’ve really got a female starting at centre back. Can you imagine that in England or Spain?”
People in more established footballing countries, whether they are fans, players or part of the establishment, have to ask themselves this question.
What reaction would Saelua get if he signed for an English football club? Would there be general hysteria or would people accept him for the committed and talented footballer he is? It is a question that one day we hope is asked as it will only help people realise that football is for all, regardless of who you are.
Government equalities minister Lynne Featherstone is running a campaign to get someone to design a logo for a national campaign to kick homophobia and transphobia out of sport.
Lynne Featherstone said: “Over 2,000 individuals and clubs have already signed up to the Government Charter for Action to kick homophobia and transphobia out of sport and I thank them for their support.
“The competition will help encourage even more people to get involved and spread the message far and wide that homophobic and transphobic abuse is never acceptable.”
More info is here.
Sunday, 20 November 2011
The Justin Campaign is encouraged by the news that two fans were arrested for homophobic chanting during Southampton’s game against Brighton & Hove Albion at St Mary’s on Saturday.
We would like to thank both Southampton FC and Hampshire Police for reacting in such a decisive way to the homophobia, as it shows a willingness to act on the issue rather than simply give it tacit support.
Homophobic chanting by opposition fans during Brighton & Hove Albion games has, for far too long, been an acceptable part of the Seagulls’ matches, with action rarely taken by the authorities. However, in making these two arrests at St. Mary’s, Hampshire Police have shown that it is not acceptable to hurl abuse at a minority who have, for far too long, been excluded from the game we all love. Homophobic chanting is not ‘harmless banter’, it is offensive and damaging behaviour which has no place in a football stadium.
There is now a growing momentum behind the fight against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football, and the actions of Hampshire Police and Southampton FC have helped the game take another big step towards true equality in football.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
“Je suis homosexuel, je suis gai, a-t-il confié à Radio-Canada Sports. Je né l’ai pas choisi. Ça fait seulement partie de ce que je suis. Et ça n’a rien à voir avec le talent d’un joueur de soccer. Tu peux être à la fois un excellent joueur de soccer et être gai.”
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
According to research from the University of Bath the reason we know this is down to the assortment of coloured boots in the game.
As researcher Adi Adams explains: “There was a time when only black boots were acceptable and wearing coloured boots was identified as unmasculine, feminine and potentially indicative of homosexuality.
"Now there is a wider range and a greater appreciation of clothing styles among the players which is a good indicator about changing attitudes."
While this study may generate a nice headline on a news article, it also does have a serious point about it.
It shows that homophobia in football is being talked about.
However, the seriousness of the research must be questioned. Most fans, whether of fashion or football, would agree that the sport has come a long way from mega short shorts and the 1980s perms.
Off the pitch styles have changed, stadia have been improved, tolerance levels have generally improved.
But still homophobia is a part of the game that we all know and love.
Talk does not make change. This is where we must make a difference, lobbying authorities, talking to fans and providing support to any individuals that ask for it.
After all, change is a lot more than a different colour of boots.
Monday, 14 November 2011
Thursday, 10 November 2011
They are young ambassadors for The Justin Campaign, a Brighton-based initiative to make football safe for all people regardless of their sexuality and gender identity. East Sussex Targeted Youth Support Service and The Justin Campaign have successfully worked together to raise awareness of homophobia and homophobic bullying. Projects have included a ‘Tackle Homophobia’ tournament, which took place in June at the Wave Leisure Centre, Seaford (funded by East Sussex Youth Bank, applied for by a group of young people) and a weekly football session at the JOFF centre in Peacehaven (funded by Southern Housing Group).
The young men must be highly praised for their commitment to an issue many adults are failing to openly support.
Monday, 7 November 2011
In the past week there has been a lot of media publicity on the issue of homophobia in the game, from a member of Brighton and Hove Albion's supporters club asking for authorities to take homophobic chanting more serious to homophobic messages being displayed on a Crawley Town player's Twitter account.
Following these articles, Rod Liddle penned these thoughts in yesterday's Sunday Times titled "Equality takes longer than 90 minutes".
For those of you without a subscription or a hard copy of the paper, I'll provide a few extracts.
Talking about eliminating racism in the game, Liddle writes: "We're almost there but not quite. And the force for change has not been pressure groups or the Kick It Out campaign, but a gradualism occasioned by more black players, more black faces on TV and so on.
"You cannot conceive of yourself as being the master race when a black forward has just made your white defence look static and imbecilic, or when your local MP is black.
"And so it will be, I suspect, with homosexuality. For a while now the FA has attempted to outlaw homophobia at grounds but I suspect that this will make the chants even more homophobic."
Mr Liddle concludes: "You force this stuff on people and in the end it just causes even more resentment."
In a way I can see the point that Liddle is trying to make is that changes in society and culture result in more change than action by those in charge of the game.
A lifelong Millwall fan, he has seen the ugly side of the game up close, particularly through the 70s and 80s when it was a no-go place for many.
But in this issue we feel he has largely skewed his effort wide of the post.
For homophobia and transphobia IS now unacceptable in wider areas of society - even other sports - yet football continues to lag behind.
Not just on the field, but off it too, it remains a very male dominated enclave where any issues around sexuality are frankly just not talked about, never mind embraced.
The reason? Perhaps because football is the most popular game in the world, its authorities could afford to take the view they do not have to take equality seriously.
Note that does not mean they do put the issue to one side, just that there is little impetus for doing so from the financial point of view.
For instance, are sponsors going to turn away from the game if a high-ranking member of the footballing authorities makes a homophobic statement?
How much money did Fifa lose when Sepp Blatter made his infamous remarks about members of the LGBT community attending games in Qatar?
The actions of a number of activists and groups, such as the Justin Campaign, have played a major role inensuring this issue is now being looked at more seriously.
Bosses are now realising that football can be a force for good and, instead of waiting for a rap on the knuckles from the Government or being shamed into action by the media, football authorities can and are taking a more proactive stance.
The Premier League and the Football Association can use its global profile to spread a message of equality and show it can use this to change people's views, not reinforce them.
As one twitter user, known as Gixibyte, wrote when I posted the comments earlier: "The alternative is to do nothing. Which breeds more homophobia. Ignore the isolated minority who fume at anti-homophobia."
The club posted this article on its website on Sunday night.
The Justin Campaign welcomes this step and hopes it acts as a catalyst for more professional sides in all four English divisions to follow in the steps of Wycombe Wanderers and Charlton Athletic.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
According to a national newspaper, Hope Akpan's Twitter account read: "Gays all over the tele what’s wrong with Britain! Sorry I’m #FullyHomophobic."
The 20-year-old midfielder, who signed from Everton in the summer, has since deleted the comment from the social networking site.
A statement issued by the League Two club, on behalf of manager Steve Evans, said: "Having spoken to Hope at length, I accept that the comments were added to his Twitter account by a young member of his family without Hope’s knowledge.
"The view expressed on Hope’s Twitter account are not shared by any member of the staff of Crawley Town FC. As a club we do not condone discrimination of any kind."
A Justin Campaign spokesman said: "Homophobic comments, whether in football or not, are wrong.
"Even with the support of some clubs and footballing authorities, homophobia remains entrenched in football and it will take strong leadership for attitudes to change.
"The Justin Campaign is one of a number of volunteer groups that is leading the cause towards real change in the world's game.
"In this instance there could be a reasonable explanation but the Justin Campaign hopes the FA will look into this with immediate urgency and deal with any wrongdoing with utmost seriousness."