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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 15:42 GMT
London: Homophobia in football
Khevyn Limbajee
Khevyn Limbajee
Politics Show London

Football

This week the Football Association held a homophobia summit the aim being to stop verbal abuse - whether it is from players or supporters - at any level of the game.

It is the latest attempt to tackle the lack of gay tolerance in the game.

But what is the level of the problem in London? The BBC Politics Show went to find out.

Just a bit of banter amongst the lads - or is does it create an atmosphere which means that prejudice thrives and footballers who are gay feel uneasy and unable to come out.

Justin Fashanu, the talented Nottingham Forest footballer, who committed suicide in 1998, had faced a huge amount of abuse.

Peter Tatchell, the gay campaigner was a personal friend and knew him very well through the period in the early eighties when Fashanu was wrestling with him sexuality.

He said " The atmosphere at the time was painful.

"Justin was the first and last professional footballer to be open about his homosexuality. That took courage.

"Others have not shown similar honesty and bravery. At the time, he and I knew of 12 top footballers who were either gay or bisexual.

"None have followed Fashanu's example of openness."

According to European law, homophobic abuse is illegal and also an offence in Football Association rules.

The BBC Politics Show rang around all the clubs in London to try to gauge whether they think that homophobia is a problem.

We only really got a couple of replies with clubs not really thinking that there is a problem at all.

Stonewall player
Players of Stonewall FC think differently

But the players of Stonewall FC think differently. It is mostly a gay club which play in an around London's leagues.

On regular basis they get taunts from other team players and their fans.

Andrew Warmsley, the Chairman of Stonewall FC, said "Some Saturdays it is worse than others.

"We get anything from HIV, AIDs, to, you are a faggot."

The Football Association do accept that there is a problem and that they need to take the lead but There is a mood of optimism in the FA.

Simon Johnson, the Director of Corporate Affairs said, "At the conference we held in Coventry this week we had high profile endorsements from a number of our clubs including both the major professional clubs in Manchester and I am sure other clubs will follow."

We live in much more enlightened times than when Justin Fashanu was trying to come out, and sexual orientation should not be an issue.

But to really kick it out of the game, the real challenge is whether in the locker rooms, the pitch and on the terraces attitudes and language change.

Politics Show

Join Politics Show on BBC One on Sunday 06 November 2005 at Noon with Tim Donovan.

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11 Sep 05 |  Politics Show


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