The Football Association has agreed to organise and fund a video / DVD featuring premier league players speaking out against homophobia.
The idea was put to the FA several months ago by Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group OutRage!, as way of challenging the anti-gay abuse hurled by fans at players like Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell.
Spurs’ fans at the Tottenham v Portsmouth match on 28 September 2008 subjected Sol Campbell to a torrent of homophobic abuse, which included:
“Sol, Sol, wherever you may be / You’re on the verge of lunacy / And we don’t give a f*ck if you’re hanging from a tree / You Judas c*nt with HIV.”
“He’s big, he’s black. He takes it up his crack. Sol Campbell, Sol Campbell.”
Throughout 2006 Arsenal fans taunted Ashley Cole about his sexuality, chanting “Ashley Cole is a rent boy” and other homophobic insults.
At a high level meeting at the FA offices in Soho Square in late November, Mr Tatchell’s proposals were discussed and agreed by the FA and its partner anti-racist organisation, Kick It Out, with the backing of the Professional Footballers’ Association, which represents Britain’s top players.
“After years of lobbying, the FA has agreed to approach top footballers to make a MTV-style video against homophobia,” said Mr Tatchell.
“The plan is to feature big-name stars speaking out against homophobia, in order to make anti-gay chants look as stupid, ignorant and uncool as racist ones.
“Our wish list of participating football stars includes David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Peter Crouch, Freddie Ljungberg, David James, Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo and Steven Gerrard.
“We’re pressing the FA to get this video broadcast on TV and at matches on the giant stadium screens. We also want the FA to put it on YouTube and distribute copies to every school in the country.
“Our aim is to ‘Give homophobia the boot’ – to kick anti-gay prejudice off the pitch and out of the terraces. We believe this video will help challenge bigoted attitudes among fans.
“It is a ground-breaking initiative that will have a huge, positive impact in football circles in Britain and around the world; helping make the game a more welcoming and safe sport for gay players and spectators.
“Many currently feel threatened and excluded by the vociferous minority of fans who indulge in anti-gay abuse.
“OutRage! has been pressing the FA for many years to tackle homophobia in the same way that it tackles racism. We are delighted that the FA has finally agreed to our video proposal.
“But we are also pressing for additional action to stamp out prejudice.
“The FA should impose big fines and match suspensions on players and managers who use anti-gay insults.
“Stewards should be required to identify fans who shout homophobic abuse and the FA should secure the agreement of the police to arrest and charge them in the same way that they arrest and charge racist fans.
“Education against homophobia is even more important, in order to make the game welcoming and safe for gay players and spectators.
“The FA needs to secure the agreement of all clubs to feature anti-homophobia messages in their match programmes, on tickets and on billboards inside and outside football grounds.
“The appointment of Phil Scolari to manage Chelsea should have been vetoed by FA and Chelsea bosses.
“He had previously said he would refuse to have a gay player in his team.
“The FA should have not allowed him to take up his post until he renounced discrimination and gave an undertaking to abide by the FA’s equality policies.
“If Scolari had said that black players were banned from his team, there would
have been uproar.
“He would have been immediately ruled out of the running for the Chelsea managership.
“Why the double standards?
“Sport is one the last great bastions of homophobia, and football (together with boxing) is the least gay-friendly of all sports.
“We need much tougher official action to root out bigotry,” said Mr Tatchell.