16 October 2020

The event was the third transnational network meeting of the EU-funded project OUT! – Fighting Homophobia and Empowering LGBT+ Stakeholders in Football. Football Supporters Europe and the Royal Belgian FA organised the meeting, in which the focus was on the role that associations and leagues can play in tackling homophobia. Previous network meetings had already discussed the role of clubs and players.  

Tackling homophobia and transphobia in football is important. Still too many LGBTQ+ people, especially youth, feel that football is not yet a safe space for them. According to the Play Proud initiative, in the United States, only 24 percent of LGBTQ+ youth say they play a school sport, compared to 68 percent of non-LGBTQ youth. With the Show Racism the Red Card program, EFDN raises awareness on discrimination in football. The topic of LGBTQ+ and homophobia is part of its “Diversity Wins” educational programme. Together with our project partner clubs we aim to make the game more inclusive and accessible for people from all backgrounds, genders, and sexual orientations.  

The OUT! Consortium, with organisations such as Pride in Football, Queer Football Fans, Fußball Fans gegen Homophobie, and LGBTQ+ supporter groups from different clubs and countries, works hard to raise awareness on the importance of inclusivity. During the OUT! Meeting, the panellists and participants discussed the progress that has been made and challenges that are still faced. Overall points highlighted the importance of raising awareness of the effect of homophobic abuse in stadiums on LGBTQ+ fans, the importance of role models, and the importance of the visibility of the different LGBTQ+ supporter groups. For example, Di Cunningham from supporter group Three Lions Pride talked about how their visibility at the WC 2018 in Russia had many people talking about LGBTQ+ inclusivity in football.  

Together with the present FAs, participants discussed what role the FAs should have in improving inclusion. One main points made was a better representation of LGBTQ+ people within the FA’s organisations. Furthermore, to make diversity and inclusion a priority within the FA’s, there needs to be support from the top levels of the organisation. Another important point made by the participants was the importance of research. Research can illustrate that homophobic or other discriminatory incidents are not just incidental, but structural, and thus need to be addressed. For example, the Royal Belgian FA conducted research among referees. As a result, the FA became aware of the fact that almost half of referees were aware of racism and homophobia during a game but did not react.  

The participants agreed that eradicating homophobia in stadiums is rather a long-term goal, than short term. There has been a lot of progress, as more and more clubs take days such as Coming Out Day, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and Pride month to promote and raise awareness of LGBTQ+ inclusion. One participant noted that Schalke 04’s video for Coming Out Day this year, was unthinkable a few years ago.   

Do you want to know more about Show Racism the Red Card’s educational programme? Check out our website   

Stay informed

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay informed.