Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Three footballers charged for alleged homophobic Twitter remarks

Football players are continuing to find themselves in trouble for posting homophobia comments on social media website Twitter.

Just weeks after West Ham United player Ravel Morrison was fined £7,000 a trio of professional players have been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association.

These include Manchester United's Federico Macheda and Newcastle United's Nile Ranger.

A statement from the Football Association said: "Newcastle United’s Nile Ranger, Walsall’s Manny Smith and Manchester United’s Federico Macheda, currently on loan at Queens Park Rangers, have all been charged with improper conduct in relation to comments made on Twitter.

"The charge is that the players acted in a way which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute. It is further alleged that the breach included a reference to a person’s or persons’ sexual orientation."

These cases follow a number of high profile cases. As well as Morrison, Leicester City footballer Michael Ball was fined £6,000 by the FA for a comment about the gay soap actor Anthony Cotton during his appearance on I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! Lee Steele also was dismissed from Oxford City football club after comments he made about the openly gay rugby player Gareth Thomas during his stint in Celebrity Big Brother.

The Justin Campaign welcomes the FA taking such a strong stance on comments made on public sites by professional player. Football fans look up to these young men and women. When role models get told their actions are wrong then this can only have a knock-on effect.

However we are aware that while these high-profile cases are important it alone will not be enough. Far more is needed to raise awareness about the inequalities within sport, especially with the LGBT community.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Football v Homophobia – A Positive Initiative For All

A message from the Justin Campaign

Just over half way through the annual Football v Homophobia week of action, the Justin Campaign would like to thank and acknowledge everyone for their interest and involvement in our campaign.

This year is the third year we have run Football v Homophobia, and so far there has been a fantastic display of support. We have seen around 20 professional clubs backing the initiative and a host of grassroots organisations getting involved. The football fans and volunteers who make up the Justin Campaign feel hopeful that through continued support, we really can make a difference to football.

Director of Football v Homophobia, Megan Worthing-Davies said “At a time of heightened debate around the impact of discrimination and abuse on the pitch, Football v Homophobia is creating a partnership across the game to truly make a difference on this issue”.

We are heartened to say that FvH this year has seen a huge surge of interest, right from the grassroots to the professional game. Some of the highlights we know of so far include:

  • Around 20 professional clubs taking action to support the FvH week
  • Arsenal, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Millwall discussing the issue with members of the campaign at their grounds
  • Wycombe Wanderers being the first professional team to warm up in FvH t-shirts
  • Kent, Sussex and Surrey County Football Associations attending a one day training on how to use Football v Homophobia
  • lGB&T friendly football tournaments hosted around the country including by Sussex University, Guinness Northern Counties, Liverpool Pride and Norwich City in partnership with Norwich Pride

A number of other organisations have also been working on this issue. This month has seen the BBC3 documentary about Justin Fashanu fronted by his niece Amal, the Government encouraging football teams to sign up to the charter to tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport, and the promotion of a poster campaign by the Professional Footballer’s Association. Finally this week, we had the launch of the FA Action Plan; Opening Doors & Joining In and also the Prime Minister’s summit on discrimination in football.

We have also seen firm action being taken by the Football Authorities to counter abuse both from football fans and also from players.

As dialogue on this issue increases, the Justin Campaign will be working across football to ensure there is a coordinated and meaningful approach to tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football. Whilst we would obviously love to have the active support of every club in the country, the Justin Campaign has no interest in pointing the finger at clubs who are not working with us. We recognise that the total acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all areas of football will not happen overnight.

We believe that Football v Homophobia gives professional clubs the tools to effectively tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football. We recognise that for many clubs this agenda is new. The Justin Campaign aims to work patiently and in a positive manner to convince clubs and organisations that this issue is something that must, and can, be tackled. That’s why our initiative FvH is about giving people the tools to take action – for professional clubs, we have provided a range of simple things they can do and we hope that these small steps for few will lead to more concerted efforts over time by all.

We also think it’s very important that the football family, campaigning organisations and also the government, work in a coordinated and collaboratively way. That’s why three years ago the Justin Campaign created Football v Homophobia to be something that could unite people in working together to make football safe for everyone, and we are proud to see the campaign uniting more people than ever to make a difference this year.

Football v Homophobia is the only specifically created campaign designed to tackle this issue in football. On Monday, The FA’s General Secretary, Alex Horne, announced that The FA supports this campaign as the key driver in tackling this issue in the game. The Justin Campaign welcomes the support of the FA, the on-going backing of Kick it Out, and the recent announcement of support from the Professional Footballers’ Association. Together, and by working in partnership with campaigning organisations across the spectrum as well as the whole football family, we believe FvH can change the game for the better.

The Justin Campaign is a community-initiated organisation run by a team of heterosexual and LGB&T volunteers united by their passion that football should be open to everyone. In and of itself, the organisation demonstrates what can be done if everyone comes together. It’s important to recognise as well, that effective work on this issue is being done. In 2012 already, we have visited prisons, run youth projects involving training LGB&T people as football coaches, initiated a partnership with upcoming artists Shorvon and Hunter, delivered training to County Football Associations in partnership with Pride Sports, and also of course run our international week of action, where thousands of people around the world have taken part in making a difference.

The events being run around the country are examples of how the football family can work positively together on an issue which is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

We look forward to building on the partnerships that have already proven effective in tackling prejudice and discrimination. Find out more about FvH and how you can get involve via our website and help us make football safe for everyone.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

How to report homophobic abuse

A number of fans have been in contact with us in recent weeks to ask what to do if they experience homophobic abuse. We hope the following is useful.

If you are at a professional game then we advise that all incidents are reported immediately to the matchday stewards. They can then liaise with police officers on duty at the game who will then take action to identify those responsible and take action. This could be eviction of those responsible from the game or even an arrest, with subsequent charge.

If you do not report instances at the game then please do notify the club after the incident. While this there is very little chance of action being taken against the perpetrators it does mean that those in charge at the club are aware that such behaviour is going on.

If you are playing a game and experience homophobic abuse then we recommend that you challenge the individual on their actions. We appreciate that not everyone will feel comfortable doing this so it also worth contacting the clubs and the relevant league authorities after the game to inform them of the abuse.

The following website, report it, is also extremely valuable. This gives people the opportunity to report incidents, even those on social media websites, such as Twitter and Facebook. If you do not want to be named then this website allows you to remain anonymous.

We appreciate that some victims may also want support after the incidents. A comprehensive list of organisations and charities in the UK which offer advice and support is available here.

Homophobic abuse, whether on or off the football pitch, is a hate crime. It is only by reporting incidents that action can be taken and we can rid the beautiful game of its last taboo.

Three arrested for homophobic abuse at Brighton - Millwall game

After years it seems like police and footballing authorities are finally getting the message.

Just hours after officials from Brighton and Hove Albion and Millwall signed the sporting charter, which promotes equality in sport, three Millwall fans were arrested for homophobic chanting.

The Justin Campaign has had contact from a number of fans who were subject to abuse at the game and want to make it clear that this is not welcome in football.

For years Brighton and Hove Albion supporters have been subject to homophobic abuse, largely because of the city's image as the UK's gay capital.

Homophobic chanting is often mistook for banter; let's make this clear, it is not.

The Justin Campaign wants to offer its thanks to Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove Albion for taking such as positive stance on this issue.

It is only with such strong and public signs of action that supporters of all teams will get the message that football is for everyone, regardless of a person's sexuality.

Football bloggers - Football v Homophobia needs you!

Football bloggers - we need you!

February 18 to 26 is Football v Homophobia week which will see individuals, grassroots organisations and professional clubs come together under one banner to show that homophobia is not welcome in the beautiful game.

Across the world football fans will unite to show that football is about diversity and inclusion, whether people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or straight.

The world's most popular sport has a profound relationship with the attitudes, values and behaviour in our society. It can be a force for change.

The messages of homophobia, prejudice and discrimination affect us all. It is truly the last taboo in football.

Football v Homophobia is run by the Justin Campaign, named in memory of Justin Fashanu, the first and only out gay male UK professional footballer who suffered bulling and hostility after his sexual orientation became public.

For more details on what's going on please visit

You can also contact us via or follow us on twitter @justincampaign.

In supporting FvH, you are not only helping to make football a more inclusive and welcoming environment, you are also playing your part in making the society we live in a better place for everyone.

We would be grateful if you could share this information with your loyal followers.

We also want to hear from you. Perhaps you want to have been witness to homophobic abuse on the terraces? Perhaps your team has done something special to mark FvH?

Please get in touch and any articles you write we will RT to all of our Twitter followers. If you like we could even post them to our blog.

Look forward to hearing from you!

The Football v Homophobia team

The PFA Backs Football v Homophobia 2012

The Justin Campaign is delighted by the news that the Professional Footballers’ Association is supporting this year’s Football v Homophobia initiative.

Set up by the Justin Campaign in 2010, the annual week of action, which takes place between the 18th and 26th of February, is the FA’s endorsed campaign to tackle homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in football.

The Justin Campaign uses FvH to work around the year to enable people to take action against homophobia in football and to celebrate and welcome diversity. Through the message of FvH, the Justin Campaign provides support, communication materials, education and training to enable anyone - including fans, LGBT communities, grassroots teams, professional football clubs and football authorities - to communicate and promote inclusivity and unity.

This year, a number of Premier League clubs, along with Football League clubs, will be taking part in the initiative.

During the week of action, the PFA will be distributing anti-homophobia posters to professional clubs, schools and community groups to help raise awareness for the issue.

Simone Pound, the PFA’s Senior Executive of Equality said: We are delighted to support the campaign and consider it a great opportunity for football to demonstrate a visible anti-homophobia message.”
Megan Worthing-Davies, The Justin Campaign’s Director of FvH, said: Having the support of the PFA is extremely important for both Football V Homophobia in particular and the fight against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football in general. Their positive influence on footballers all around the country is vital to making the game a more welcoming and secure place for LGBT fans and players.”
For more information, contact Alan Duffy at or on 0781 4347566.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Justin Campaign Statement on The FA Charging Of Ravel Morrison

The Justin Campaign is pleased to hear that The FA has decided to charge West Ham United player Ravel Morrison over his widely reported homophobic Tweet.

Whether or not Mr. Morrison’s comments in the Tweet were simply ill judged or a product of a more ingrained attitude towards the LGB and T communities, the fact remains that remarks of this nature are totally unacceptable and need to be acted upon by both the football authorities and the relevant clubs.

Comments like Mr. Morrison’s are not “banter”, they are abuse, plain and simple, and they reinforce the view that football is not a welcoming place for LGBT fans or players.

We therefore applaud The FA for taking this action and are confident that the more homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are challenged by those in football, the sooner we can rid the game, which is often described as ‘beautiful’, of this ugliness.

Here is The FA statement in full:

"West Ham United’s Ravel Morrison has been charged under FA Rule E3 for use of abusive and/or insulting words including a reference to a person’s sexual orientation.

Morrison has until 4pm on 17 February 2012 to respond to the charge.”

For more information please contact Alan Duffy - , 07814347566

Monday, 13 February 2012

Leading rugby ref comes out

A leading rugby league referee has become only the second person involved with the Australian game to come out.

Matt Cecchin, who has taken charge of the National Rugby League's grand final, said he was inspired after reading a book by former Aussie rugby star Ian Roberts, who is also gay.

The general acceptance following the announcement is a sure sign that being gay is no barrier to anyone wanting to take part in one of Australia's most popular sports.

His reasons for the timing, which was delayed until after his teenage son finished exams, also is a sign that he thinks way beyond the game's borders.

The comments in the interview with the Herald Sun are so powerful that it is best repeating.

Mr Cecchin said: “Like a lot of people, I thought to be gay you had to be feminine, you had to go to nightclubs and you had to be in the scene, and I was never into that.

"I played sport, I loved rugby league, I liked going to the pub with my mates. It wasn't until I read Ian's book that I started to tick a few boxes.

"I'd be very surprised if I was the only gay person in rugby league. But me coming out has nothing to do with other people in rugby league.

"It has to do with the youth who are growing up today and may be going through a whole world of hurt and fear.

"My experience is they don't need to be. People are OK with it now."

The Justin Campaign wants to offer its public support to the decision taken by Mr Cecchin. Such open comments from the referee are extremely refreshing.

Cecchin coming out is exactly how it should be: timed for when a person is ready and for the right reasons. Publicly accepting you are a member of the LGBT community is a big step and should never be taken on somebody else's terms.

We hope that this marks an important step in the game which some people see as adverse to LGBT issues. Given the public support that Ian Roberts received with other players saying it was important to be "true to yourself", there is no reason why Cecchin's decision can be further proof that sexuality is no barrier to forging a successful career in the sporting world.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Strong Enough To Survive - A tribute to Justin Fashanu ....

By Chris Morgan

I remember seeing the newspapers during the week after Justin’s death and feeling sick to stomach. There were graphic accounts of his last movements and interviews with people who had met him, or spent time with him in his final hours.

The press hounded him throughout his career, drove him to suicide and then afterwards printed some of the cruellest, nastiest stories ever published in the UK newspapers. As an athlete myself I felt angry that Justin was never allowed to meet his true potential on the pitch.

At the time all this happened I was just coming to terms with my own sexuality and was taking my first steps towards a career in sport. I realised that I was faced with a choice of whether or not to be open about my sexuality in the brutal and testosterone driven sport of Powerlifting.

Being out as a gay man in my previous sport of rugby union was impossible at the time. However, I knew in an individual sport like Powerlifting there was an opportunity to be openly gay and what had happened to Justin motivated me and filled me with strength.

For the next four years Justin’s story stayed with me as I strived to win my first title in Powerlifting, as it filled me with indescribable anger and rage. At the Gay Games in Sydney 2002, I won that first Gold Medal and immediately dedicated it to Justin’s memory.

I’ve gone on to win many titles and medals during my career and all this time Justin’s story has always been with me in the background. The fact that similar acts of bigotry are still happening today, means that Justin’s story is still as relevant now as it was in 1998.

I’d like to thank everyone at The Justin Campaign for keeping his memory alive.

Chris Morgan

Gay Games Ambassador & World Champion Powerlifter

Check out our exclusive interview with Chris here.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Arsenal FC welcome The Justin Campaign to the Emirates to mark "Football For Everyone"

Arsenal have always been one of the more progressive football clubs in the country, and just days after they, along with the other 19 Premier League clubs, signed the Government charter against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football, the club marked its "Football For Everyone" initiative.

We were guests in the director's box, along with Lord Ouseley of Kick It Out and officials from Stonewall. As it was Arsenal's first home game of LGBT History month, the game gave the club a chance to highlight their commitment to fighting bigotry against LGBT people in football.

This was highlighted by Robin Van Persie's notes in the matchday programme, while the publication also let fans know about our forthcoming FVH initiative.

In speaking with Arsenal Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, it was clear to see that he and the club were fully committed to dealing with this issue.

However, as we all know, there is a long way to go. Signing charters is all well and good, but this needs to be followed up by action. Arsenal's "Football For Everyone" and it's focus at the weekend on the LGBT community is another positive step and we congratulate Arsenal on this move.

Check out the Football V Homophobia Facebook group for more photos of the day here.