Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Gay England Fans Told To Keep Low Profile In Ukraine

By Hayley Paterson, Press Officer for the Justin Campaign

I saw something in the news this week which made me despair at a time when as fans of football we should be excited.

Anxiously waiting for Euro 2012 to kick-off in just a couple of weeks time,’s news site has reported that gay England football fans travelling to joint-host country Ukraine for the tournament, have been told to keep a low profile for their own safety. 

The warning has come after Kiev’s first ever gay pride event was cancelled because of concerns that homophobic attacks would take place.

Even more worringly, the news piece shows Svyatoslav Sheremet, head of the Gay Forum of Ukraine, being brutally beaten by thugs - and that was AFTER the pride parade was cancelled.

Amnesty International said that it was police who advised organisers of the threat of violence from football hooligans - a sport which should be at the forefront of celebrating all minorities coming together to cheer on their clubs.

Sadly not though.

Now, gay England fans going to eastern Europe next month SHOULD fear for their safety it seems.

Amnesty campaign Max Tucker has said not only will football fans have to put up with violent hooligans targeting gay people and those from ethnic minorities, they will also face “an extremely corrupt police force”.

Football can sometimes be very dark. Violence should never be at the forefront of anything, let alone regarding football, or any sport for that matter, and even more so it should never be used as a tool to attack minorities.

It’s still quite abundantly clear that educating people about tackling homophobia in football is going to be no easy task... but that's not going to stop us!

And don't forget to please join us in our campaign to tackle homophobia in football. Follow The Justin Campaign on Twitter @JustinCampaign.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Fans' Feedback Gives Us All Hope For The Future

Amy Barnett is a student at the University of Leicester.     

I went along to Peterborough United vs. Watford on Saturday 21st April to conduct a pilot study for my dissertation research on sexuality in football. Overall I was very encouraged with the outcomes. 

The main aim of my pilot study was to gauge how willing fans were to talk about the issues, assess the quality of my questions and address any theme that came out of the participants responses. From the results I can elaborate and add to my extended list of questions for the final study.

I approached a number of fans with two initial questions:  Firstly, 'what are your views on a potential gay footballer playing for Peterborough United?' and secondly, 'how do you think fans in general would react to a PUFC player coming out?'. 

Overall, I was encouraged by how willing fans were to talk to me and the depth they went to in their answers to my questions.

A few themes emerged from my research, mainly the fact that it wouldn’t matter if a player came out, especially if they were playing well. Participants thought that home fans would welcome and support a player coming out whereas away fans would make up chants purely as ammunition against the other team. It was not suggested that these chants would be homophobic in any way. All participants believed that it would take a ‘big name’ coming out to change and normalise the situation in football in the long term. Finally participants thought that the main thing stopping players coming out is the fear of the unknown both on the pitch, with the fans, with the media and in the dressing room.

A few points emerged that I had not considered prior to my study. Firstly the varying attitudes of fans in different areas of the ground. A steward in the Family Stand suggested that she could only speak from her experiences in the Family Stand and that other stands, especially the terraces may react differently. Secondly, the differences in the attitudes of fans across the country; It was mentioned by 3 different parties that fans at Elland Road often aim homophobic chants at players. These last two points have highlighted the need for my research to encompass experiences of Peterborough United fans from further afield than just London Road.

Overall, I am very encouraged by my afternoon at Peterborough United and I look forward to reporting my findings as my research takes shape.

Thank you for your support  

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Football Blogging Awards supports The Justin Campaign

Any subject as emotive, captivating and opinion-invoking is bound to spring a fair share of online commentators.

To celebrate people's efforts, the Football Blogging Awards (The FBAs) aims to celebrate football blogs and football bloggers, most of whom do the work for nothing more than the love of the game.

The awards ceremony will take place in Manchester in July and awards are available in ten categories.

The winners are decided entirely by the public.

And what's great is that all the proceeds will go towards the campaign. Truly a double win! So whether you're a budding blogger or keen campaigner check out the site here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Why I Joined The Justin Campaign: Hayley Paterson, Press Officer

Hayley Paterson, the Justin Campaign's new Press Officer, talks about what made her join us in the fight against homophobia in football.

I love football, I always have. I’ve played it for as long as I can remember. It’s a sport that can offer up a ridiculous range of emotions, that being pure ecstasy to total agony. I live for the sport, but there’s also an ugly side to football – and one which ultimately led me to getting on-board with The Justin Campaign.

I knew all about Justin Fashanu, I admired his courage and prayed that when announced he was gay, those words would change world football forever. It has in some instances I have no doubt about that. Without his brave stance we wouldn’t have people talking about homosexuality in sport today and trying, like this campaign, to stamp out the prejudice that surrounds sexual orientation in football.

Since Justin’s incredible act of bravery and tragic death, there have since been a couple of footballers who have taken the plunge to come out and say who they really are. But there is still so much more that needs to be done – and that is what I want to be a part of.

As I wince into my coffee cup realising how old I really am after working out that I have played women’s football for no less than 17 years since the tender age of 11, it is apparent to me that sexual orientation is much more accepted and talked about in the female game – that’s what I want to achieve in the men’s equivalent.
Sexual orientation in sport needs to be talked about. It’s time to challenge the small-mindedness where people think that players can’t possibly get changed in the same dressing room as a gay team-mate for fear of them coming on to them.

And pardon the pun, but it’s time to tackle the archaic views that top-flight football clubs cannot have a gay player in their side because they won’t be as strong or athletic as someone who is straight.

I want to talk to people about their views on homosexuality in football. I want to challenge the stereotypes and interview players, managers and whoever else concerned about a subject which should no longer be taboo in the world’s favourite sport.

That’s why I have got involved in this fantastic campaign. I don’t just want to focus on the top level men’s clubs, I want to challenge the thought processes of grassroots level and women’s football.

So, as I climb back down from my soapbox, I just wanted to sign off by saying it’s an absolute privilege to be involved with this campaign in a press capacity and I hope you all do the same – it’s time to change world football forever and if we’re all on the same team (so to speak) then I’m sure we can challenge those old-fashioned misconceptions and kick out homophobic discrimination once and for all.

Hayley Paterson

(Follow me on Twitter @HayleyP_11)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Former Chelsea player: "Homophobia needs to be challenged in the same way racism has been"

Those readers of the blog will have noticed an absence of posts recently - apologies.

During the brief hiatus, there has been some really positive comments from people who can inspire real change in the game we all love.

One of them is Paul Elliott, a former Chelsea and Celtic defender, who has since been awarded an MBE for his work as an ambassador against racism in the game.

In a recent interview  for the Fifa website, Elliot was asked what did he see as the next challenge in football in fighting discrimination.

His response is worth printing in full.

"Homophobia is a big one. That needs to be challenged in the same way racism has been. And there’s still what I would call institutional discrimination in football. We’re actually running a campaign at the moment called ‘Fair Share’, which is aimed at getting better representation for women and minorities in boardrooms, committees, councils and in coaching itself.

"What we’re talking about here is equality of opportunities. That’s a huge challenge for us, and I’m excited by the prospect of taking it on."

Elliott has a long history of championing equality in the game. To be blunt, he knows the right people and has the right attitude and manner to bring about real change. His working in stamping out racism in the game has been fantastic and much admired.

The fact he is turning his eye to homophobia is a positive sign for all. Fifa know that this must be tackled head on and by getting people like Elliott involved is a sign the world's organisation is going to take this seriously.

Let's hope these positive messages as it is only through support at all tiers of the game that  the change and equality we all strive for can be achieved.

Louis Saha asks should a footballer come out?

Homophobia in football is really becoming an issue that players are thinking and talking about.

Following comments from senior and famous players such as Florent Malouda and Phillip Lahm, Tottenham Hotspur striker Louis Saha has now publicly revealed his own thoughts on the last taboo in the game.

In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard, the eloquent Frenchman (pictured right) discussed the issue of homophobia in football.

He said: “I do think players would accept it, eventually. But it would take time and some management. Footballers are very frank people and we are always taking the mick, so when there is something we’re not used to, it’s going to be hard.

“Do you think a player who comes out will be protected enough? I don’t think he would be protected from the fans. Maybe his own fans would be okay but the opposition fans?

“I don’t think it would be easy for him to cope with that. People are rude and if you perform badly, you are insulted badly. If there was someone who fans perceived to be different from the other players, he might end up suffering some big insults and it would be difficult to live with.

“When there is a problem, there has to be a solution and I have tried not to hide from these subjects. You have to be tolerant and even if someone is making a joke, it might still be painful for someone to hear. This is something that society wants to have a solution for.”

Within the interview Saha said he discusses the issue more in a chapter of his autobiography. This is sure to take a different tone away from the "pally" nature in similar books by contemporaries such as Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.

What is clear from the comments is that Saha is a deep-thinking professional, far removed from the traditional view of modern-day footballers.

His views are refreshing but they also present the challenges which face those people like the members of the Justin Campaign who want to bring about change in the beautiful game.

But the fact professional footballers are thinking about the issue is only positive as it shows that change is possible. With more tolerant and broad-minded senior pros like Saha, perhaps there will be an easier route for people to become truly accepted for who they are when they take part in a football game.