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The FA

 

The GFSN now works with The Football Association (The FA), as part of its Tackling Homophobia Working Group, to help develop a strategy for dealing with homophobia at professional games. The Premier and Football Leagues subsequently amended the 2007 Ground Regulations to make homophobic chanting an offence. They now read “Racial, homophobic or discriminatory abuse, chanting or harassment is strictly forbidden and will result in arrest and/or ejection from the Ground. The Club may impose a ban for one or more Matches.”


The aim of the GFSN and The FA’s Tackling Homophobia Group is to encourage attitude change on a par with that related to racism, which has been the subject of over a decade of successful campaigning. There is clearly a need for action:  figures reported by The FA in August 2007 revealed that 21% of supporters surveyed said they had experienced homophobic abuse with 73% of those responding attending professional club matches.  Additionally, 9% of referees and 14% of players involved in grassroots football have experienced homophobic abuse. 


The GFSN has also agreed a Liaison Officer scheme with The FA which aims to support professional clubs in tackling homophobia.  The Scheme involves the appointment of volunteers from the GFSN and/or from the gay and lesbian football teams, to act as “Liaison Officers” for each club in the Premier and Football Leagues.  Further information about this scheme may be found by clicking here.

A news item on The FA’s website gives an insight into volunteer Richard Howgill's experiences at Reading FC. Another volunteer, Kevin Farmer, shares his story of serving as Liaison Officer at Nottingham forrest below:

“Justin Fashanu! You know the story but do you know much about Nottingham Forest's stance on homophobia in today’s society?

As liaison officer to Nottingham Forest in regards to The FA’s joint venture with the GFSN to combat homophobia in the footballing fraternity I am pleased to say that not only are they working positively towards this campaign but are also working to help combat homophobia in the county of Nottinghamshire in other ways.

After meeting Nottingham Forest I was pleased to agree with them a date for a feature article to appear in their match day programme (match versus Brighton and Hove Albion in the 2007-2008 season).  Not only did this article talk about working with me, it also talked about the wider issue of homophobia and how they hope to work with the relevant people, groups and authorities to eradicate this form of discrimination.  (The club have now also worked with a local gay group and have appeared on an anti-homophobia poster which has featured in schools).

Further to this success it was of great satisfaction that during the annual Nottingham Ball Bois tournament (May 2008) the Club Administrator wrote an article giving her, and the club’s support for the campaign and talked about how they hope to eradicate homophobia from The City Ground; this featured in the tournament programme.The relationship with the club will hopefully strengthen with future meetings and I plan to put several ideas to them in terms of progressing the campaign to a new level.  I am hoping to get some backing from them for these ideas which will in turn show an ever bigger stance against this form of discrimination.

Nottingham Forest are keen for the handling of homophobic incidents and the training required to know how to handle them to be included in the compulsory stewarding package (as is the case with race and disability discrimination).  This is a measure I heavily support and have recommended.  Announcements regarding this may be forthcoming in the future.It has been a pleasure to work with Nottingham Forest regarding this initiative and although the success so far has been preliminary I am confident of future success stories which will further help those who face the misery of homophobic discrimination within The City Ground, Nottingham and beyond.  Congratulations should be offered to Nottingham Forest for setting an example to other clubs who unfortunately have been less forthcoming and co-operative, it is a sorry state of affairs that you have to congratulate someone for doing the right thing; the focus now needs to be on those that are not co-operative.  We need to be asking questions of them!”

For more information on the work The FA is doing in this area, click here

 

 

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