The first ever international fans conference on homophobia will this weekend call on football bodies, government authorities and clubs to do more to tackle prejudice and exclusion in the sport across Europe.
Organisers hope that the Football Fans v Homophobia conference, taking place in Manchester on Saturday (17th August), will identify new ways of tackling homophobia in football, celebrate the involvement of gay and lesbian fans, and reinforce a zero tolerance message against discrimination.
Supporters from 29 European countries, including Russia, Germany, France, Norway, Poland and Portugal will hear speakers including Patrick Gasser, head of social responsibility at European football governing body UEFA, Dirk Middeldorf of the Queer Football Fans network in Germany, and Paul Amann of Liverpool FC LGBT Supporters club.
Amongst the sessions taking place will be the launch of a new mobile phone game as a tool to educate young people against homophobia in sport, and the experience of the transgender community in football.
Also under scrutiny will be the hosting of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and the FIFA World Cup in 2018 across Russia. Both events pose challenges in light of new Russian laws prohibiting the ability of the LGBT community to take part in public life.
The conference is being organised by the international anti- discrimination network, Fare, and the UK- based Football v Homophobia (FvH) campaign.
Lou Englefield from FvH said, “The LGBT community has a large contingent of football supporters whose concerns on homophobia are often ignored. As the first major gathering of supporters on this issue, both LGBT and allies, this is a huge event for the LGBT community in football.
“It is fitting that it takes place on the day the most high profile league in world football kicks-off its season.”
Piara Powar, Executive Director of the Fare network, commented, “Europe is becoming both more tolerant and intolerant at the same time, it is important that fans across Europe have the opportunity to show their support. We will focus on campaigning solutions and highlight successful initiatives to tackle exclusion in football.”
Notes to editors:
The conference takes place at 10am at the Friends Meeting House in Mount Street, Manchester
A full speaker programme can be sent by email.
The conference is open to members of the media, please send requests to email@example.com
Organisers and participants are available for interview
Further details on farenet.org