Warning: This episode references offensive language from an incident of homophobic abuse.
At the end of Mental Health Awareness Week and ahead of the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 17, the FvH Podcast brings you the story of a report of homophobic abuse in local men’s football that went through a county FA disciplinary process during the 2021/22 season.
Zack Leader plays as a striker with Fedora’s FC, an amateur club in Lincolnshire. A few years ago, while competing in a different sport – gravity bike racing – Zack came out publicly as gay, and he has been open about his sexuality in local football.
He was playing for Fedora’s FC’s reserve team in a Gainsborough & District Sunday League match in January when he heard homophobic abuse shouted from the sidelines. He reported this to the referee, and the opposition team was later charged, leading to a Lincolnshire FA disciplinary process and eventually, a punishment.
Talking to host Jon Holmes, Zack talks about his journey in sport; getting back into football; changing clubs and feeling comfortable on and off the pitch; and how the sequence of events that ensued during and after the January incident ended up impacting on his mental health and self-confidence.
He also shares words of advice for other players in men’s amateur football who are gay or bi and his thoughts on how leagues, county FAs and others at this grassroots level of the game can make their environments more inclusive.
Zack Leader on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/zleader23/
Zack Leader on Twitter – https://twitter.com/zleader12
Football v Homophobia – https://www.footballvhomophobia.com/
Sports Media LGBT+ – https://sportsmedialgbt.com/