Football v Homophobia – A Positive Initiative For All – A message from the Justin Campaign

Just over half way through the annual Football v Homophobia week of action, the Justin Campaign would like to thank and acknowledge everyone for their interest and involvement in our campaign.

This year is the third year we have run Football v Homophobia, and so far there has been a fantastic display of support:  we have seen over 20 professional clubs backing the initiative and a host of grassroots organisations getting involved.  The football fans and volunteers who make up the Justin Campaign feel hopeful that through continued support, we really can make a difference to football.

Director of Football v Homophobia, Megan Worthing-Davies said “At a time of heightened debate around the impact of discrimination and abuse on the pitch, Football v Homophobia is creating a partnership across the game to truly make a difference on this issue”.

We are heartened to say that FvH this year has seen a huge surge of interest, right from the grassroots to the professional game.  Some of the highlights we know of so far include:

  •  Over 20 professional clubs taking action to support the FvH week
  • Arsenal, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Millwall discussing the issue with members of the campaign at their grounds
  • Wycombe Wanderers being the first professional team to warm up in FvH t-shirts
  • Kent, Sussex and Surrey County Football Associations attending a one day training on how to use Football v Homophobia
  • LGB&T friendly football tournaments hosted around the country including by Sussex University, Guinness Northern Counties, Liverpool Pride and Norwich City in partnership with Norwich Pride

A number of other organisations have also been working on this issue.  This month has seen the BBC3 documentary about Justin Fashanu fronted by his niece Amal, the Government encouraging football teams to sign up to the charter to tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport, and the promotion of a poster campaign by the Professional Footballers’ Association.  Finally this week, we had the launch of the FA Action Plan; Opening Doors & Joining In and also the Prime Minister’s summit on discrimination in football.

We have also seen firm action being taken by the Football Authorities to counter abuse both from football fans and also from players.

As dialogue on this issue increases, the Justin Campaign will be working across football to ensure there is a coordinated and meaningful approach to tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football.  Whilst we would obviously love to have the active support of every club in the country, the Justin Campaign has no interest in pointing the finger at clubs who are not working with us.  We recognise that the total acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all areas of football will not happen overnight.

We believe that Football v Homophobia gives professional clubs the tools to effectively tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football.  We recognise that for many clubs this agenda is new.  The Justin Campaign aims to work patiently and in a positive manner to convince clubs and organisations that this issue is something that must, and can, be tackled.  That’s why our initiative FvH is about giving people the tools to take action – for professional clubs, we have provided a range of simple things they can do and we hope that these small steps for few will lead to more concerted efforts over time by all.

 We also think it’s very important that the football family, campaigning organisations and also the government, work in a coordinated and collaboratively way.  That’s why three years ago the Justin Campaign created Football v Homophobia to be something that could unite people in working together to make football safe for everyone, and we are proud to see the campaign uniting more people than ever to make a difference this year.

Football v Homophobia is the only specifically created campaign designed to tackle this issue in football.  On Monday, The FA’s General Secretary, Alex Horne announced that the FA supports this campaign as the key driver to tackle this issue in the game.  The Justin Campaign welcomes the support of the FA, the on-going backing of Kick it Out, and the recent announcement of support from the Professional Footballers’ Association.  Together, and by working in partnership with campaigning organisations across the spectrum as well as the whole football family, we believe FvH can change the game for the better.

The Justin Campaign is a community-initiated organisation run by a team of heterosexual and LGB&T volunteers united by their passion that football should be open to everyone.  In and of itself, the organisation demonstrates what can be done if everyone comes together.  It’s important to recognise as well, that effective work on this issue is being done.  In 2012 already, we have visited prisons, run youth projects involving training LGB&T people as football coaches, initiated a partnership with upcoming artists Shorvon and Hunter, delivered training to County Football Associations in partnership with Pride Sports, and also of course run our international week of action, where thousands of people around the world have taken part in making a difference.

The events being run around the country are examples of how the football family can work positively together on an issue which is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

We look forward to building on the partnerships that have already proven effective in tackling prejudice and discrimination.  Find out more about FvH and how you can get involve via our website and help us make football safe for everyone.