Reading FC has become one of the first football clubs to actively implement the new Football Association and Gay Footballers Supporters’ Network initiative to combat homophobia in football.
The GFSN said it is delighted with the response that Reading has made to the initiative, and urged all other Premier League and Football League clubs to follow Reading’s excellent example in their work to tackle homophobia.
GFSN Liaison Officer Richard Howgill said, “These are important steps to tackle homophobia in football.
“There are thousands of gay football fans who regularly attend matches and our objective is to promote a non-discriminatory atmosphere which encourages gay people to participate actively in our national sport.
“Reading prides itself in welcoming people of all walks of life to Madejski Stadium in a relaxed and non-threatening environment and we are grateful for their backing.”
The new football season started earlier this year and homophobic abuse is against the rules in every Premier League and Football League club for the first time.
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 scheme, in which volunteer liaison officers work with football clubs across England, has received support from all the agencies involved in the game, including the police and the Professional Footballer’s Association.
The FA/GFSN initiative is appointing volunteers from the various gay football teams to act as liaison officers with each of the 92 English League Clubs.
The role of each officer will be to work alongside and advise the relevant staff at their assigned club of how best to discourage the homophobic abuse and behaviour that is prevalent at every level in the game.
It is hoped that this scheme will facilitate similar social and attitude change to that of the successful anti-racism campaigns in the last few decades.
The initiative will to bring together the various UK gay football organisations to work together to promote gay football while tackling the on going problems at every level of the game.
More than fifty volunteers from gay teams such as Birmingham Blaze FC, GFC Bournemouth, Leftfooters FC, Leicester Wildecats FC, London Falcons FC, London Titans FC, Merseyside Marauders FC, Nottingham Ball Bois FC, Village Manchester FC, Stonewall FC and Yorkshire Terriers FC last month went to The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic, for a day of workshops and discussions that will form the initial basis of the project.