The Justin Campaign has announced that an international day against homophobia in football will be held in February.
Organisers of the campaign, named after the only out gay footballer, Justin Fashanu, hope it will raise awareness of the problem in the sport.
They hope national clubs will be encouraged to adopt the campaign’s logo for a day and release anti-homophobia messages to support the cause.
Community football teams in the UK and Europe plan to hold a series of football matches and fun events throughout the day under the banner of Football v Homophobia.
Research by Stonewall last year found that most fans had heard homophobic abuse at games. Although two high-profile sportsmen – Donal Og Cusack and Gareth Thomas – came out last year, Fashanu remains the only high-profile footballer to have come out. He suffered bullying and later killed himself.
Darren Ollerton, campaign director, said he wanted the event to complement LGBT History Month, which is also held in February.
He said: “Every year on February 19th the campaign will celebrate the day by following Justin Fashanu’s career throughout the years and engaging with each team and their community along the way.
“Let’s hope when the campaign reaches the end of the timeline we will have witnessed some much needed change in the way gay and bi men in professional and amateur football are perceived and treated.”
Founding director of the Justin Campaign Jason Bartholomew Hall said: “We think it’s important to have one day out of each year when clubs and supporters are able to unite in opposing hate and intolerance in their national sport.
“However people celebrate Football v Homophobia day – let it be out of respect for each other and of equality.”
An opening ceremony for the day will be held in Brighton, while the campaign will be sending its team to Norwich for a match, where Fashanu began his football career.
To find out more about Football v Homophobia Day and the Justin Campaign, click here