Fan groups appeal to football’s governing bodies to end homophobia in football
LGBT fan groups are calling for a radical plan of action and investment in football to put an end to homophobic abuse which is still rife in the British game.
Members of Pride In Football (PIF), a new alliance of LGBT football fan groups, formed after sharing over experiences of homophobia at British football grounds. PIF held its first conference in November 2014, with help from the ‘Fans for Diversity’ campaign, run in partnership by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation.
PIF has been made aware of homophobic incidents at the FA Cup semi-final match between Arsenal and Reading and the Championship play-off semi-final in recent weeks.
Further to recent incidents, ‘Out on the Fields’, a global academic study published this week, found widespread homophobia and fears for the safety of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) supporters in British stadia.
The Out on the Fields study, an international survey of over 9500 people backed by experts at six universities, found 77% of people from the UK had ‘witnessed or experienced’ homophobia around sport.
PIF believes the findings are a clear indication for the governors and sponsors of British football that more needs to be done to combat homophobic behaviour in stadiums.
Zitta Lomax of Arsenal’s Gay Gooners said: “Football authorities must act. As the report highlights, watching sport in this country can be an overwhelmingly negative experience for Lesbian or Gay fans.”
And John Browne of Manchester City’s Canal Street Blues said: “There is a growing movement in the UK and around the world of LGBT fan groups.
“We are no different from any other fans and should be able to enjoy sport without fearing for our safety. We want to work with clubs, authorities and the police to ensure LGBT fans feel safe and welcome in, and on their travels, to and from the ground.”
Di Cunningham of Norwich City‘s Proud Canaries, whose Honorary Chair is Stephen Fry, suggests it’s an example to follow: “Clubs can help their supporters’ groups to make links.
“We all have a common interest in supporting our team and we can do that better together.”
Chris Paouros, chair of Pride in Football said: “It’s time to end tolerance of homophobic abuse in football.
“We want to see individual clubs invoke sanctions against homophobia conducted by supporters even if they’re en route to or from a game and not at a stadium, and we want to see consistent signage and regular training of club staff.
“We want football’s administrators ‐ The FA, The Football League and The Premier League to commit to action to change the culture of football in this country.”