Monday, 30 January 2012

The Justin Campaign Statement On BBC3's 'Britain's Gay Footballers'

The Justin Campaign was delighted by the broadcast of the documentary ‘Britain's Gay Footballers’ on BBC3 on Monday evening. To see the issue, one which the campaign has been working hard to highlight since 2008, now starting to get the coverage it deserves is extremely exciting.

The Campaign was extremely moved and proud to see Justin Fashanu, the man after whom we named our voluntary organisation, being discussed in such a respectful and positive manner. In addition, the contribution of QPR player Joey Barton must be applauded and highly commended. Having a high-profile player like Barton speak up on the issue will make young people, who look up to him, think again about using homophobic language. It will also provide support for those youngsters who are unsure about their own sexuality; Barton’s positive engagement with the issue will undoubtedly make them feel more secure.

A spokesperson for the Campaign said:

“Football still has a very long way to go in properly dealing with the problems of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia within the sport. However, the more the issue is discussed and is brought out of the closet, the easier it will be to address the problems.”

“The Justin Campaign is proud to be working with The FA and a number of Premier League and Football League clubs on the forthcoming Football v Homophobia initiative, which takes places from February 18th – 26th. “

“The fact that we are now working in partnership with major organisations and clubs in the game shows how far we have come. We hope that the momentum increases and we can finally reach a time when sexuality is no longer a barrier to being a footballer or a fan.”
For more information please contact Alan Duffy at or on 07814347566.

Or check out our website

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Waking up to LGBT issues?

Think back twenty, ten, even five years ago and homophobia in football was not something that was talked about, never mind tackled head on.

Yet in recent days there has been two extremely positive signs that the footballing world in the UK at least is waking up to the challenge of ensuring there is true equality in the game.

First there is the news that the Professional Footballers' Association has sent posters to all 92 league clubs which the media says is an attempt to reassure any gay footballers they have the support of their teammates.

The poster shows two shirts in a locker room – one with No 7 Gay and the other with No 11 Straight – written on it, with the words ‘When you are part of a team you are never on your own – we are all winners. Football is committed to tackling homophobia’.

The PFA's head of equalities Simone Pound told the Mail on Sunday: "We are working hard to tackle homophobia and it is something everyone has a responsibility to address.

"We want the authorities, clubs and fans to create a 'so what?' culture around being gay in football. As the players' union, we consider it a vital matter. There has been a step forward recently and football is taking homophobia seriously."

In response a Justin Campaign spokesman said: "We welcome the actions of the PFA. This is a really positive step in the tackling the last taboo in football.

"Football players' look for leadership, advice and guidance from their union. This move, which on paper is only an A4 poster, is in fact a big message, not only to any gay professional players, but to their colleagues and friends that homophobic behaviour is discriminatory and wrong.

"It is only with such strong leadership from those in charge of professional football that true equality will be established."

This announcement comes as BBC3 will show a documentary called Britain's Gay Footballers at 9pm tomorrow (Monday).

It will feature Amal Fashanu, Justin's niece and a supporter of the campaign, interviewing, among others, PR guru Max Clifford and QPR captain Joey Barton.

With such publicity it is surely a sign that the work the campaign and others are doing is finally having some impact at the very top levels and among fans, which can only be good for the beautiful game.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

German soccer president calls on players to come out

The sea may separate them but the footballing communities of Germany and the UK are both facing similar issues.

It is perhaps in these two countries where the issue of homosexuality in the national sport has been most prevalent.

We have already touched on the most recent case in the UK, where a non-league footballer got sacked by his team for a homophobic tweet aimed at rugby legend Gareth Thomas. The fact he has since been resigned by another team is very disappointing.

But in Germany the debate is happening at a much higher level.

Theo Zwanziger, the outgoing German soccer federation president, has said it’s time for gay players to come out, reportedly saying they should "have the courage to declare themselves".

However these comments have been countered by the national team captain Phillip Lahm (right), who said: "The politicians can come out these days, for sure, but they don’t have to play in front of 60,000 people every week. I don’t think that the society is that far ahead that it can accept homosexual players as something normal as in other areas."

It is hard to imagine Premier League chief Richard Scudamore and national team captain John Terry having such a public argument around LGBT issues.

What is equally clear is that both the comments from the German figureheads are from people who have thought about the issue but differ on this pretty major point.

It perhaps sums up the situation where football, particularly in Europe and North America has reached: do we - supporters, campaigners, footballing authorities - encourage someone to come out; or do we continue to ignore the situation and hope it will change in the future as society's views develop?

The simple answer is that while nobody should be forced to publicly accept who they really are, steps should be taken to ensure that the support network is in place for anyone that wants too.

To think, like Phillip Lahm, that footballing society is not ready for a player to say "I'm a member of the LGBT community" is simply sweeping an issue under the carpet and hoping that somebody else will approach what is a difficult, but ultimately not impossible, subject.

As has been said before homosexuality in football remains the last taboo and until we all can stand up and acknowledge that something can be done about it, it will sadly - and wrongly - remain hidden away.

BBC3 to air Britain's Gay Footballers

Good news.

It has been confirmed that BBC 3 will show a documentary called Britain's Gay Footballers. So set the Sky+ box or video recorder and put January 30 at 9pm in the diary.

The programme will be presented by Amal Fashanu, the niece of Justin who, as most of you will be aware, the campaign is named after, and who is involved with our work.

We have also been told that QPR's Joey Barton and PR guru Max Clifford will feature while the cameras will go to Millwall FC for a match, presumably to see if homophobia exists in a footballing environment.

It will be interesting to see what path the programme follows. Obviously any highlighting of the issue is extremely welcomed. But the hope is that the programme does not trivialise the issue as other documentaries on discriminatory subjects, not just in sport, have in recent years.

We shall have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Somewhere over the rainbow Margaret Court's comments will be band...

Well done Laura Robson.

Without wanting to sound too patronising the teenage tennis player, who is one of a number of talented young Brits looking to break into the top echelons the sport, proved that a little action can go a long way.

In support of equality in sport, the 17-year-old wore a multicoloured hairband during her Australian Open match against Jelena Jankovich.

It comes in the wake of comments from Australian tennis legend Margaret Court, an avid opponent of same-sex relationships and after whom the arena Robson played her match on was named.

Court, 69, reportedly said: "Politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take.

"The fact that the homosexual cry is, `We can't help it, as we were born this way,' as the cause behind their own personal choice is cause for concern."

The comments made last week sparked outrage and led to a mass campaign quite simply called 'Rainbow Flags over Margaret Court Arena'.

When Robson was asked about the band after her match, the teenager said: "It was just a rainbow-coloured hairband. I didn't see anything about a protest today."

The Brit added: "I wore it because I believe in equal rights for everyone. That's it. It wasn't a protest, it was just a hairband."

Now in the age of PR and 24/7 media it can be seen that Robson wanted to make a statement but not overplay her opposition to Court's out-dated and vile views.

But what it does do is show all supporters that a little bit of activism can go a long way.

For the Justin Campaign it is encouraging to see so many players - others have been more vocal than Robson - oppose the inhumane views that Court spouts not only to her congregation but also to the media.

We can only hope that pressure is kept up on the authorities to stop Court from attending this year's event but also reconsider naming the arena.

For those players that have to walk onto it during a grand slam it is supposed to be an honour, not a memory of outdated views and abhorred statements.

Perhaps if similar uproar came in football, players could wear messages of support under their shirts?

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Countdown To Football v Homophobia 2012 Begins!

Dear Supporter,

Five weeks until Football v Homophobia 2012

I’m writing to remind you about this year’s football v homophobia. There have been some important developments this year in the Justin Campaign, and I’d like to tell you a bit more about them, as well as invite you to take action this year for FvH.


At the end of January this year we will be launching our new FvH website. The website will provide a much improved level of support to a wider audience. It will also be easier to donate through the site, and to purchase merchandise. Thank you to those of you who sent in case studies of the fantastic work you did last year for FvH. These will be live on the site in February.

In the meantime, our current site is up and running as usual until the launch of FvH v2!

You can of course also find The Justin Campaign on our Facebook page here and details about Football v Homophobia here. You can also follow us on Twitter at @JustinCampaign, so make sure you check in for up to date information.

Week of action

We are changing the way that we think about and promote FvH. As you know, it began as a day of action on the 19th February, Justin Fashanu’s birthday. This has worked well, but with the growth of FvH and our developing partnership with the FA, we feel that there is a need to make FvH more accessible and to strengthen it’s impact. We therefore intend to make FvH a year around initiative, with a focused week of action around the 19th Feb. The focus of FvH will continue to be about empowering people to take action to make a difference, whilst the Justin Campaign will continue to have a wider remit of raising awareness and encouraging a range of activisms. Having a week of action for FvH instead of a day will:

  • Allow more people to put on events or take action
  • Allow us to nurture commitment to FvH by the professional game
  • Ensure that FvH gets more attention and makes a bigger difference

Professional game

Several professional clubs have already committed to being involved in FvH’s weeks of action this year. We are also sending out letters in the next week to all professional clubs telling them more about what they can do to get involved.

What you can do

There are a range of things that you can do this year to get involved. More detail will be available on our new website.

  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter – get up to date information and help us get the message out
  • Take part in our ‘Me v Homophobia’ photo action – take a photo of yourself and your gang with a Football v Homophobia sign and upload onto our Facebook page – help us demonstrate support for FvH
  • Take part in our ‘My club v homophobia’ campaign – take a photo of yourself in your club paraphernalia, with a Football v Homophobia sign, and start a petition to your club to get them involved with FvH
  • Buy an FvH t-shirt of hoodie and wear it during the week of action – help raise funds for the campaign and spread the message
  • Wear pink or black or an FvH shirt to a football game during the week of action – show solidary at your club
  • Put on an event for FvH – we are here to support you in whatever way we can. Check out our new site for new and improved event guidelines and a map of events around the country, as well as case studies of best practice from FvH 2011

Please get in contact to tell us about events you would like to organise or to talk more about how you can get involved. We look forward to continuing to work with you to make football welcoming, inclusive and safe for everyone.

Best wishes,

Megan Worthing-Davies

Director of Football v Homophobia

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Justin Campaign statement on Oxford City’s Decision To Terminate Player’s Contract.

The Justin Campaign was very interested to hear the news that Southern Football League Premier Division club Oxford City has sacked striker Lee Steele over homophobic remarks he posted on Twitter recently.

The remarks, made in relation to the openly-gay Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas’ appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, read: “I wouldn’t fancy the bed next to Gareth Thomas #padlock my a**e”.

While it is never pleasing to see someone lose a position in a club or company, we fully applaud the club’s decision to terminate the player’s contract.

For far too long homophobic comments like the ones Steele made have been defended using the erroneous argument that such remarks as simply harmless “banter”. However, we no longer accept racist “banter”, and likewise, we must never accept homophobic “banter”. These kind of comments, in which being gay or bisexual is used as joke, have immense power in dissuading members of the LGBT community from either playing or watching football.

Oxford City’s brave decision shows us that things are, slowly, moving in the right direction and that football is starting to take homophobia, biphobia and transphobia seriously.

Here is the club’s statement in full.

“The Oxford City board have decided to release Lee Steele in view of his recent comment via social media which is considered seriously contrary to the ethos of the club.”

Friday, 6 January 2012

The 2011 Justin Fashanu Cup A Huge Success

Teams from across the UK got together to play in the Justin Fashanu Cup 2011. In this year's tournaments we had people that had travelled from London, Brighton, Bristol, Trowbridge and Cambridge to play in the five a side tournament being hosted by the Justin Campaign and the Trowbridge Tigers. On Day 1 teams played up to four 24 minute games and in the evening took part in Darts and Pool competitions at the Prestbury Sports Bar in Warminster.

On day 2 of the competition, the final standings were established after another round of games. The Easton Cowboys edged past Sister Act to win the women's competition, in the men's division the Prestbury Tigers ran away with the league with the Trowbridge Tigers team finishing second.

At the presentation evening trophies were presented to the winning teams and medals given to the winners and runners up in both divisions. There were also trophies for the top goalscorer and the player of the tournament. All of the trophies were kindly paid for by RRUK (Rainbow Rooms UK).