Tomorrow sees the start of a new football season and for the first time homophobic abuse is against the rules in every Premier League and Football League club.
As part of The Football Association’s commitment to tackling homophobic abuse at all levels of the game, the decision to amend the ground regulations was approved after consultation with the Premier League and Football League in the early part of last season.
The new rules state: “Racial, homophobic or discriminatory abuse, chanting or harassment is strictly forbidden and will result in arrest and/or ejection from the Ground.”
The Gay Football Supporters Network is joining forces with The FA, Premier League and Football League clubs to provide Liaison Officers to support clubs across the country.
Chris Basiurski, Campaigns Officer at the GFSN, told PinkNews.co.uk: “We are delighted that the footballing authorities have taken this important first step in attempting to tackle homophobia in football.
“We are looking forward to working with them and the professional clubs, through the many volunteers who have come forward from across the gay footballing community to act as Liaison Officers, to help implement the new regulations and to promote the message that people should be able to enjoy the game free from homophobia and other forms of discrimination.”
On Tuesday a workshop will take place at Charlton Athletic where interested volunteers will receive training and be briefed on their roles in assisting their local professional team in the attempts to eradicate homophobic abuse from grounds.
Manchester City and AFC Bournemouth have already run a series of initiatives aimed at promoting equality and integrating their local gay communities into the clubs, with Kick It Out, The PFA and the Metropolitan Police also all due to be involved.
The Met oversee thirteen Premier League and Football League clubs in London and Superintendent Malcolm Simpson of the Public Order branch backed the football authorities for working together to change ground regulations in England.
“The Metropolitan Police welcomes this change to ground regulations for football matches,” he said.
“Supporting stewards and volunteers in implementing the new ground rules is a practical way the Met will support action that tackles homophobic abuse in football. It is part of our ongoing commitment to tackle all forms of hate crime.”
The amendment forms part of The FA’s ten-point plan to ensuring that opportunities are open to anyone to take part in the national game, irrespective of gender, race, religion, ability or sexual orientation, and combating homophobic language or abuse, whether by spectators, players or other participants.
GFSN won the right to host the 2008 International Gay and Lesbian World Championship in London with the support of the FA.