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Football v Homophobia Launches small grants for UK grass roots clubs for February

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Today the Football v Homophobia campaign announces a small grants scheme for grass roots football clubs in the UK. The scheme aims to encourage grass roots clubs to take part in the campaign’s Month of Action in February. Ten grants of £200 will be made in total through the scheme, which has been funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Lou Englefield, Campaign Director explains:

“Last February 48 out of 92 professional clubs took action to support the Football v Homophobia campaign. In our fourth year, this was a great achievement. This season we are aiming to engage even more professional clubs, but also help grass roots clubs get involved in the campaign. The grass roots small grants scheme aims to give a helping hand to junior and adult clubs wanting to take action on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion”

The ten grants up for grabs will be made for actions which further the aims of Football v Homophobia, namely to:

  • Make football safe, welcoming and inclusive for LGBT people
  • Create opportunities for LGBT people to engage with football
  • Improve representation of LGBT people throughout football

The deadline for applications to the grass roots small grants programme is 12th December 2014 and successful applicants will be informed of the outcome by 17th December 2014, giving clubs 6 weeks to prepare their action.

Applications must be made online here: www.footballvhomophobia.com/small-grants-programme

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Worthing-Davies subbing off

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After 3 years as director of Football v Homophobia, Megan Worthing-Davies has announced her resignation and will be leaving the campaign.

‘After several years of hard work on FvH, I feel the time is right for me to move on to take up a new challenge.  I am proud that FvH is making a difference to the football landscape, and as a result, is now arguably the leading international campaign to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football.  With few resources, this campaign is doing amazing work, and with the excellent relationships we have built across the game, I feel I can move on knowing the campaign has a great future ahead of it’.

Megan joined the campaign in 2011 when Football v Homophobia was a small initiative started by the Justin Campaign, to try to raise awareness of the issue of homophobia in football.  ‘I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to work with my Justin Campaign colleagues – volunteer activists who transformed the debate about homophobia in the game with their creative, passionate and intelligent approach.  It is quite amazing the journey that the campaign has been on since those early days when FvH was a new idea and we were very much outside of the football establishment’.

In 2012, FvH became a part of Pride Sports and a new team took shape.  ‘I can’t extol the virtues of the people who have been involved in this campaign enough.  It has been such a privilege to work alongside individuals who at great sacrifice to themselves, have given their time, commitment and dedication to make my life, and the lives of all of us, fairer and safer and happier.  At its heart this campaign is about justice, the idea that all of us should be able to participate in something we love without fear of prejudice or discrimination.  I am so glad that I have been able to play a part in this movement and thank everyone who has worked alongside me over the last 3 years to be part of this project that is making a difference to our world’.

Lou Englefield, Director of Pride Sports, who joined with Megan as Co-Director of the campaign says: ‘Megan has ensured the continuity of Football v Homophobia during its transition from the Justin Campaign, to its place within Pride Sports, the UK’s LGBT sports development and equality organisation. Her commitment to the campaign and her rigour in ensuring a future for LGBT people in football will be missed by the FvH team. We wish her all the best in her new projects’.

Megan will be returning to her education roots to join a social enterprise called Team Up which trains students at universities to become tutors to pupils at local schools from disadvantaged backgrounds.  ‘Team Up offers a great win-win model that helps address issues of social mobility in our society.  I’m really excited about joining the organisation and getting to work alongside another group of brilliant people who are involved in making our society a fairer place for all of us’.

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Football v Homophobia supports UEFA decision regarding homophobia by Bayern Münich fans

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Football v Homophobia (FvH) commends UEFA for its strong action in regards to the recent display of a homophobic banner by a small group of Bayern Münich fans during the club’s Champions League game against Arsenal.

Following the incident, UEFA has ordered the section of Bayern Münich’s stadium where the banner was displayed to be closed during the second half of their quarter-final against Manchester United. Additionally, the club has been fined €10,000 for “discriminatory behavior.”

“We believe that this shows a consistency in approach by UEFA in dealing with all forms of discrimination,” said Football v Homophobia campaign Co-Director Lou Englefield, adding that “UEFA is sending a strong message that no form of discrimination will be tolerated in European football and that LGBT fans and players deserve to enjoy the game free from prejudice.”

Football v Homophobia also commends the anti-discrimination work done by the club’s LGBT fans’ group, Queerpass Bayern, who have been working for years towards ensuring that this sort of activity is seen as unacceptable by the majority of Bayern fans.

Football v Homophobia is an international initiative opposing homophobia in football. During its most recent month of action, a majority of professional clubs from England and Wales backed the campaign, including 15 of 20 Premier League clubs.

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City captain backs the Football v Homophobia campaign to help fans and clubs tackle prejudice in the game

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For the first time in the history of the professional game in England/Wales, a majority of football clubs have backed the campaign to tackle homophobia in football, with 15 out of the 20 Premier League clubs giving their support, and all of the football authorities uniting behind the campaign.

February has seen the second annual month long call to action by the Football v Homophobia campaign, and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany believes the action of the campaign will help to challenge prejudice in the game: “We’re proud to be supporting the Football v Homophobia campaign. We hope that it sends out a message that there is no place for discrimination in football, nor in any sport.”

The campaign believes that homophobia needs to be tackled from all angles, including working with fans, and that the month of action provides an important impetus for change.  February has seen over 10 County FA’s get involved and numerous grassroots activities take place, alongside work across the professional game.  England Women’s captain Casey Stoney became the highest profile player to come out during the month, whilst LGBT fans have set up 5 new LGBT supporters groups at clubs including Spurs, Ipswich, West Ham, Reading and Southampton.  Megan Worthing-Davies, campaign Co-Director, feels a landmark has been reached: ‘The fact that we now have 50% of professional clubs taking responsibility to challenge homophobia  and to make football more inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people shows the tide is turning.  Football v Homophobia’s positive, long term approach, building partnerships focused on action and education has been instrumental to the changes that are taking place in the game”.

The FA’s General Secretary, Alex Horne, said, “We’re delighted to see so many clubs – across the professional and grassroots games – getting involved in Football v Homophobia’s 2014 month of action and taking a stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. The FA believes that everyone, whatever their background, should be able to enjoy participating in football free from fear of discrimination and abuse. Congratulations to FvH for their hard work on the 2014 campaign.”

Cathy Long from the Premier League is pleased with the uptake of teams: “We know that our clubs are committed to equality in the game, and are extremely pleased to see that our endorsement of the Football v Homophobia campaign is helping clubs to find simple ways of taking action to encourage diversity throughout the sport.”

Chief Executive of The Football League Shaun Harvey also added their support: “The Football League is committed to supporting Football v Homophobia and we salute the excellent work of the campaign and the support from clubs across the month of February.  Football should be open to people regardless of their sexual orientation and The Football League will continue to work with campaign groups like Football v Homophobia to rid our game of discrimination of all kinds.”

Simone Pound added: “The PFA fully supports the Football v Homophobia campaign and we have been delighted to see so many players backing the campaign and supporting LGBT inclusion during the February month of action.”

Minister for Sport and Equalities Helen Grant also praised the work of those involved: “I am pleased that the majority of teams in the top tier of English football and the FA have backed the Football vs Homophobia campaign. Football is our national sport and we must do all we can to tackle any sort of discrimination in the game. I hope the campaign continues to go from strength to strength.”

The full list of clubs who have taken action or committed to take action from February onwards in the 2013/2014 season can be found here: http://www.footballvhomophobia.com/professional-clubs/

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Strong support from the professional game on Football v Homophobia’s ‘Super Saturday’

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With just shy of 50 percent of all professional clubs now committed to the Football v Homophobia month of action, Saturday 22nd February is shaping up to be the campaign’s ‘Super Saturday’.

This year, there’s strong support from the Premier League, including from Manchester City. “Manchester City Football Club is committed to promoting equality of opportunity, diversity and respect across all its activities,” said Nic Scott, Head of Safeguarding at the club. “We’re helping raise awareness for the Football vs Homophobia campaign with tannoy announcements on match days, inclusion in our match day programme and our players will show support by wearing the FvH t-shirts.” Captain Vincent Kompany added his support. “We’re proud to be supporting the Football v Homophobia campaign. We hope that it sends out a message that there is no place for discrimination in football, nor in any sport.”

Also this weekend, Chelsea will be hosting their first ever ‘Game for Equality’, showcasing the club’s partnership with Football v Homophobia and Kick It Out.  Players will warm up in special t-shirts featuring the logos of both campaigns, the Premier League, and the Football League, and the club will also present a new anti-discrimination film featuring players and staff.  A spokesperson from the club said, “Our club and our communities should be open to all regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality. We welcome the Football v Homophobia campaign and will continue working with the organisation as part of our own building bridges equality initiative.”

Arsenal is participating for the third year in a row, with their ‘Arsenal for Everyone’ match this Saturday, featuring the rainbow flag on display and special information for supporters about the club’s commitment to tackle homophobia. Arsenal’s Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, said, “Football has the power to bring people together in a unique way and we believe there should be no barriers to feeling a sense of belonging to Arsenal Football Club.”  West Brom complete the Premier League contingent with a range of actions at their game against Fulham.

Several clubs from the Football League are also in action for the campaign this weekend.  York City and AFC Wimbledon have their players warming up in the t-shirts whilst Exeter and Scunthorpe have invited their local LGBT teams and communities to get involved on match day.  Bradford, Oldham, Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Burton Albion are also partnering with the campaign this weekend.

The Football v Homophobia campaign is in its fourth year, and this is the second annual month-long call to action for professional clubs to get involved. So far, an impressive 44 clubs have either already taken visible anti-homophobia action at their club, or have committed to do so this February or beyond.

Lou Englefield from the campaign is pleased with the uptake. “Football v Homophobia is the biggest campaign tackling homophobia in football, and we are confident that by the end of the month, over 50% of professional clubs will be on board.  This is a real increase on last year’s 30%, and we hope that next year, this number will rise again.” Englefield added, “We have also seen more clubs feeling confident to take their involvement to the next level this season, with several like Manchester City making a really clear, visible and strong statement that homophobia is not acceptable at their club.  This is a great step forward and we intend to build on this over the coming years.”

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York City Football Club hosts their first Football v Homophobia match

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York City’s home game against Southend United on Saturday 22 February, will mark the Club’s first ever Football v Homophobia match.

York City is one of only 25 Football League Clubs to actively tackle the issue of homophobia in Football and will be using Saturday’s match to promote their message that football really is for everyone regardless of sexuality and discrimination of any form is not welcome in the game.

As part of their efforts to tackle homophobia and to show support for the local LGBT community, the club has donated 100 tickets for the match to York Pride and has also invited members of the Yorkshire Terriers Football Club, one of the UK’s first gay-friendly teams founded in 1997.

York City communications and community director, Sophie Hicks said, “Tackling homophobia is a challenge football clubs need to address for the benefit of players and supporters. Football has such a strong cultural influence, so we must use it as a positive force to help change society for the better. Statistically, there clearly are gay footballers playing in the game. At York City, we feel we have an obligation as an employer to ensure we create a safe, supportive environment for our players, youth players and staff should they wish to publicly come out. As a sport, we have to reach a position where sexuality is just not an issue. The Football Association fully supports the Football v Homophobia campaign and more professional and amateur clubs should follow their lead. We are looking forward to hosting our very first Football v Homophobia match and excited about our on-going relationship with York Pride. Hopefully our combined efforts can help to make a positive difference in York and will lead to greater acceptance of gay players and supporters.”

Showing their support on Saturday is the Club’s shirt sponsor, Benenden Health, who are sponsoring the game and whose match guests include representatives from York Pride and Stonewall.

Paul Keenan, Head of Communications at Benenden Health said, “The Football v Homophobia initiative is hugely important and as sponsors of both York City and York Pride we are delighted that the Club is showing its support to this campaign and taking a stand against homophobia. As a mutual, values of equality and inclusivity are at the heart of our organisation and we have a long history of treating everyone fairly and without discrimination – it’s this basic premise which drives our support of this initiative. We believe this campaign can help eradicate homophobia in football and is great to see.”

To show their support for the Football v Homophobia campaign, the York City players will warm up in Football v Homophobia t-shirts and a large rainbow flag will be presented on the pitch before kick-off by the ball boys and girls. There will also be anti-homophobia PA announcements before the match and at half-time and articles in the match programme promoting the Football v Homophobia campaign and York Pride.

York Pride Press & Marketing Officer Julian Rudd said, “At York Pride we try to help the gay and lesbian people of York and North Yorkshire to live a full and happy life in this part of the world. We don’t ask for any special favours. We just want the same as other people – to be able to work, to love, to socialise, to participate in our community – without anyone objecting to that because of our sexuality, or making us feel like second-rate people.

“Our country has changed significantly in terms of the legal rights given to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – but it still takes some time for society to catch up. In York it is still commonplace for gay people to be attacked and abused because of their sexuality, to be bullied at school, to hide their sexuality at work or with their family for fear of rejection or being picked on – and to feel like they are not welcome when it comes to playing and watching sport.

“Our relationship with York City Football Club started last year and has continued and strengthened. Sophie Hicks, Josh Carson and Chris Smith attended our Pride 2014 launch event a few weeks ago and now the Club has chosen to focus on the ‘Football v Homophobia’ campaign at the Southend match on Saturday. This means an awful lot to us at York Pride. As Sophie has said before, accepting gay people – both as players and supporters – is football’s last great taboo. Please support us, both at matches and, more generally, in how you live your life. Treat someone being gay as what it is – no big deal.”


For further information please contact Sophie Hicks, 07734 172625, sophie@jmpackaging.com

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Sheffield United Community Foundation and Sheffield United FC supporting Football v Homophobia

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From February onwards, Sheffield United Community Foundation and Sheffield United FC is supporting Football v Homophobia (FvH), an international campaign to combat homophobia in all its forms. And you can help.

FvH aims to tackle homophobia and prejudice against LGB&T (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans) people in football. The campaign is endorsed and supported by The FA, PFA, PL, FL, LMA and Kick It Out.

The aim of FvH is to make football safe and welcoming for everyone. Prejudice and discrimination in football affects us all, not just LGB&T people. Justin Fashanu, the first ever out gay male professional footballer suffered bullying and hostility after his sexual orientation became public. So too have heterosexual footballers such as Graeme Le Saux and Sol Campbell.

LGB&T people are everywhere. LGB&T people are in all walks of life. They are receptionists, doctors, bus drivers, physios, and yes, even footballers.

Throughout Football v Homophobia month and beyond, please help your club by standing up to prejudice and discrimination against LGB&T people in the game.

Together we can make football a welcoming place for everyone.

If you witness any behaviour during a game, like anti-gay chanting and hateful or prejudiced language, speak to a nearby steward, the police, a club official, or contact The FA by phone 0800 085 0508 or email reportdiscrimination@TheFA.com or Kick It Out on www.kickitout.org/report_it.php

Remember, doing nothing only allows discrimination to get worse.

To further support the campaign, here are some other simple things you can do:

1. Show your support by following Football v Homophobia on social media: @FvHtweets

2. Join the Football Fans v Homophobia network (& receive a quarterly fanzine) to keep up to date with events

3. Encourage your club, amateur team or friends to get involved.

You can find more information at www.footballvhomophobia.com

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Chelsea game for equality

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Chelsea Football Club’s game against Everton this weekend will bring together football and important campaigns and organisations to highlight work promoting equality within the sport, and throughout communities.

The Game for Equality will see Chelsea FC’s Building Bridges initiative join forces with Kick It Out, Football v Homophobia, the Premier League and the Football Association to underline the commitment to tackling discrimination in all forms.

Building Bridges was launched in 2010 to promote equality in our club, our stadium and our communities, working alongside schools and other groups to celebrate our diversity, and the Game for Equality takes the initiative further.

Demba Ba is the ambassador for this first Game for Equality. He said: ‘I’m proud to be asked to be the ambassador for this campaign as it is important we as a club stand up to all forms of discrimination.

‘I support all work promoting equality, and believe days like this will help get the message out there.

‘There is no place for discrimination. Our club and our communities should be open to all regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality.’

The Building Bridges logo will appear on our home kit for the first time at Saturday’s game. The players will also warm up in specially designed t-shirts featuring the logos of the organisations involved in the day.

The Premier League and FA are supporters of a range of Chelsea’s equality initiatives from our ground-breaking Asian Star to developing opportunities for young Asian coaches with the Zesh Rehman Foundation.

The Premier League are also funders of our Education Through Football programme which sees Paul Canoville delivering anti-discrimination workshops to 1500 pupils as part of the programme.

Roisin Wood, director of Kick It Out, said: ‘Chelsea FC’s inaugural Game for Equality is the perfect platform for the club to demonstrate their support for organisations campaigning for equality and inclusion in football.

‘The work of the club’s Building Bridges initiative goes further towards creating a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for supporters of all backgrounds, and shows Chelsea’s  proactive approach in engaging with their local community.

‘Kick It Out commends Chelsea FC and its Foundation on developing the Game for Equality and looks forward to continuing its close working relationship with the club moving forward.’

Megan Worthing-Davies, director of Football v Homophobia, said: ‘We welcome the work of Chelsea FC in combatting discrimination and prejudice in the game.

‘The club’s leadership on challenging homophobia and creating a welcoming and safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people will make a difference not just within the club, but also within the wider community and around the world.

‘Football v Homophobia applauds Chelsea’s stance on this issue and is very pleased to be working with the club going forward.’

There will be more information on the Game for Equality and its importance in the coming days as the club builds up to the match.

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Exeter City Football Club will be taking a stand against homophobia in football at its home game with Rochdale (Saturday 22 February).

The match has been designated as the Club’s annual ‘Football v Homophobia’ fixture – a move welcomed by the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust and its One Game One Community (OGOC) Group.

The OGOC Group is organising a series of initiatives at the match working in partnership with the Devon Lions, the local gay friendly football club.

The anti-homophobia campaign has been backed by Exeter City’s OGOC Ambassador, first team goalkeeper Artur Krysiak. “Football should be a game for all to enjoy. There is no place for prejudice and discrimination” said Artur.

Also supporting the special focus on opposing homophobia is Alan Quick, South West Co-ordinator for Football v Homophobia, Founding Trustee of Exeter Pride and a member of the Exeter City OGOC Group. “It is really positive to see Exeter City taking such a principled stance. Everyone, be they player, official, employee or fan, should be free to be themselves. Exeter City takes a firm stand against things like inappropriate chanting or hateful or prejudiced language which is to be congratulated” said Alan.

Exeter City’s One Game One Community Group is part of the national Kick it Out campaign which aims to address all types of discrimination in football including race, disability, gender, age and sexual orientation.

For more information contact Martin Weiler on 07768276805

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Win tickets to Arsenal v Sunderland 22nd Feb

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Win FREE tickets to Arsenal v Sunderland on 22nd Feb as part of Arsenal in the Community’s support for Football v Homophobia during LGBT History Month.

To enter the competition, send approximately 200 words to competition@footballvhomophobia.com answering the following question:

What does Football v Homophobia mean to you?

Competition closes 12.00pm Thursday 20th Feb. The top 3-5 entries will be printed in the March fanzine, and the winner will receive confirmation of the tickets by Thursday 20th 18.00pm.

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