Hat-trick for Charlton at Football v Homophobia Awards

Triple success for Addicks at Puma-sponsored annual event recognising LGBT+ inclusion work, with Beth Fisher and Anita Asante also among winners…

By Jon Holmes

Charlton Athletic enjoyed a hugely successful evening at the 2021 Football v Homophobia Awards, with the League One club, its Community Trust-affiliated inclusive team, and LGBTQ+ fans group chair Rob Harris all honoured.

ITV Wales Sport reporter Beth Fisher and her girlfriend, the Aston Villa defender Anita Asante, claimed the prize in the Women’s Game category, while Proud Baggies, Wrexham AFC, and the Manchester FA were also recognised for their inclusion work with awards.

The Puma-sponsored event, in its second year, was held virtually on Friday night via the campaign’s Instagram account. Judges including former England international Lianne Sanderson and Fans For Diversity campaign manager Anwar Uddin selected the winners in each category based on how their efforts had helped to make football more welcoming for all LGBTQ+ people.

Dr Michael Seeraj, head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, collected the Professional Game Award on behalf of the League One club. The Addicks were joined on the final shortlist by Liverpool and Sheffield United, who finished second and third respectively.

Speaking to their official website, Charlton owner Thomas Sandgaard declared he was “delighted” to learn of the award, adding: “It is a credit to the work the club and our fans do. This club has a proud history of inclusion and fighting inequality, which is important, as football should be a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”

Asante and Fisher have consistently championed the contributions of lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people in women’s football, highlighting these on their own platforms and more widely in the media, as well as providing visibility and representation as role models. In a strong Women’s Game category, they were shortlisted alongside Goal Diggers FC and Sky Sports’ Women’s Football Show presenter and journalist Jess Creighton.

Wrexham AFC were the clear stand-outs from the six steps of the National League System and duly collected the Non-League Award, which was accepted by manager Dean Keates and captain Shaun Pearson with a video message from the Racecourse Ground.

Shaun Pearson and Dean Keates with Wrexham’s FvH Award at the Racecourse Ground

Read more about Wrexham’s substantial LGBT+ inclusion and community work on Sky Sports.

Deeside Dragons FC – situated in Shotton, just a short drive north of Wrexham – and Village Manchester FC were recognised for their hard work in creating LGBTQ+-inclusive playing environments in the Grassroots game, but it was game-changers Charlton Invicta FC who took the award in that category for the second year running.

Also celebrating back-to-back successes were Proud Baggies, West Brom’s LGBT+ and allies supporters group, who pipped Sheffield United’s Rainbow Blades and Tottenham’s Proud Lilywhites to the Fan Group gong.

The three County FA nominees shortlisted were the Royal Air Force FA, Surrey FA, and Manchester FA, with the latter making the greatest impression on the Football v Homophobia judges’ panel.

The final award of the night – FvH Hero – went to Rob Harris, the founder and chair of Charlton’s LGBTQ+ and allies fans group Proud Valiants, whose dedication to fighting discrimination and passionate support for the campaign over many years has been long admired. Invicta player-boss Gary Ginnaw (who is also Proud Valiants vice-chair) and Deeside Dragons’ welfare officer Sinead O’Rourke were highly commended in the FvH Hero category.

The Football v Homophobia Month of Action continues throughout the rest of February, with many more events and activations. See the Sports Media LGBT+ calendar for details and registration links.

Congratulations to all the FvH Awards winners and nominees!

Football v Homophobia is an international initiative that exists to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression at all levels of football. Launched in 2010, Football v Homophobia runs an annual Month of Action, which takes place in February during LGBT+ History Month. The Month of Action calls on individuals and organisations at all levels of football to take meaningful action to create more LGBT+ inclusive spaces in the game and address all forms of discrimination.

To learn more, visit the official FvH website.

Sports Media LGBT+ is a network, advocacy and consultancy group that is helping to build a community of LGBT+ people and allies in sport. Learn more about us on our About page; to get in touch, Contact Us here or drop an email to jon@sportsmedialgbt.com â€“ we welcome your correspondence.