Football vs Homophobia initiative gains Europe-wide support
Today will see the International Day Against Homophobia in Football raise awareness on the problem of homophobia in amateur and professional football.
The Justin Campaign, named after the only out gay footballer, Justin Fashanu, are launching the initiative Football v Homophobia.
The Justin Campaign was founded to demonstrate that ten years after Justin Fashanu’s tragic suicide in 1998, homophobia is still hugely prevalent in the world of professional football.
The aim of this international day opposing homophobia in football is to unite clubs, players and fans across the country by using the game of football to bring communities together in opposing hate and discrimination in the world’s favourite sport.
Community football teams throughout the UK, Europe and America will be showing their support for the cause by holding a series of football matches and fun events throughout the day under the banner of Football v Homophobia.
The Justin Campaign’s football team in association with Norwich LGBT Pride Collective will be kicking off the celebrations with a triage of fun community events throughout the day and a football tournament kicking off at 7pm at Carrow park in Norwich on February 19th where Fashanu began his career.
Amal Fashanu, John Fashanu’s daughter will be there to open the event with David McNally, Chief Executive of Norwich FC attending to show his support.
MPs Charles Clarke and Chloe Smith will be blowing the whistle to kick off the matches and Roy Blower, Norwich City Council Sports Champion will also be attending. David Bullock, the Norwich Town Crier will be giving a ceremonious welcome to all the visitors.
The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network celebrated its tenth anniversary at the “Football for Equality” conference in December in Vienna, highlighting the fight against homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation in football.
These issues are on the agenda of the FARE network and got a new impact when the cooperation with the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) kicked-off in 2002. EGLSF became a member of the FARE Admin Group subsequently.
EGLSF Co-President, Pepe Garcia Vazquez says: “We welcome the news of this campaign and look forward to the future development of this initiative.
“For the past six years EGLSF has been leading the European campaign to tackle homophobia in football as part of the FARE network. We hope that this campaign day will unite the efforts of all those working to challenge homophobia throughout Europe.”
Markus Pinter from FARE partner organisation FairPlay-vidc, who coordinated the FARE Action Week in October, adds: “When we started with the FARE network in 1999 we were faced with a widespread neglect of the problem of racism within European football.
“Meanwhile, football governing bodies, clubs and media have recognised that racism has to be challenged pro-actively. At the same time football finds it still difficult to make it clear that homophobia is as unacceptable as racism.
“Within the framework of our annual FARE Action Weeks we support grass-roots initiatives who combat homophobia on the ground.
“Following our ‘Football for Equality’ conference we think that it is highly-time to call for an international day against homophobia in football, which we fully support.”
Currently FARE partner organisations are running the “Football for Equality” project co-funded by the European Commission (DG Justice) under the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme.
The fight against homophobia in football is the main issue of this joint programme. The next event to be hold will be a conference for gay and lesbian fan groups in Berlin in May.
Photo reports of the activities will be published at www.thejustincampaign.com after the weekend.