Joint statement – Homophobia in English football: Words are not enough

Published by Jon Holmes on

A statement on the need for urgent action, from Football v Homophobia, Pride in Football, and Women in Football

Recent weeks have seen an alarming rise in incidents of homophobia in men’s professional football in England.

The number of incidents; the clearly abusive, hurtful and damaging nature of them; and their vocal intensity within stadiums, should be a cause for concern for the entire footballing community.

As groups representing LGBTIQ+ people, our expectation is that the football authorities and clubs make tackling homophobia and wider LGBTIQ-phobia a priority to prevent a spread of the abuse we have seen. Football has to ensure that stadiums do not become a safe space for homophobes.

The football industry should ensure it is doing all it can to take action. Every organisation and governing body should commit internal and external resources to reinforce public messages.

We call on:

  • The Football Association to use the power it has as a national governing body to take action on mass chanting against the clubs concerned. We welcome the letter sent out last week but, as far as we are aware no charges have been brought despite the clear evidence of FA regulations being broken.
  • Professional clubs to live their stated values, to use their platforms and significant assets to support and educate fans to understand the impact of homophobia and these chants. Where appropriate, they should be prepared to enforce their own terms and conditions and take action against perpetrators. We hope that the Premier League and Football League will support and guide clubs in doing this work effectively
  • Broadcasters and the media – including former professional footballers and coaches now working as pundits – to engage with this issue, to use the power of their platforms to support the education process, and to help make the game they love more welcoming and inclusive for all
  • Police and prosecution authorities should renew their determination to pursue and apply the law to individuals and groups of perpetrators enacting in criminal homophobic activity

The dangers of the current situation spreading and becoming an epidemic are significant if concrete action to deal with perpetrators and those clubs whose supporters are involved is not taken. Abusive language and chants will become normalised and spread throughout football.

The LGBTIQ+ equality movement in football has grown in recent years and progress has been made in bringing about greater inclusion. ‘Inclusion’ is not enough if the basic safety of the community cannot be guaranteed.

Football v Homophobia, Sports Media LGBT+, Women in Football, and Pride in Football

Read and listen: ‘Those chants can put you further in the closet’ – LGBTQ+ fans discuss on Football v Homophobia Podcast

Sports Media LGBT+ is a network, advocacy, and consultancy group that is helping to build a community of LGBTQ+ people and allies in sport. We’re also a digital publisher. Learn more about us here.

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Jon Holmes

Digital Sports Editor