LFP campaign: Gay or straight, we all wear the same shirt

17 May 2022

As part of the International Day against Homophobia on 17 May, and for the fourth consecutive season, the Ligue de Football Professionnel and the 40 Ligue 1 Uber Eats and Ligue 2 BKT clubs are mobilising to fight homophobia on all terrains.

Last Thursday at 10am, the LFP launched a campaign against homophobia in football with the launch of a new film. In association with Panamboyz & Girlz United and SOS Homophobie, with the support of the UNFP and the participation of Paul Bernardoni (AS Saint-Étienne), Yannick Cahuzac (RC Lens), Adil Rami (ESTAC Troyes), Christophe Galtier (OGC Nice), Amaury Delerue (F1 referee), Benoît Cheyrou and Julien Brun from Prime Video, and Olivier Rouyer, the first professional player to come out of the closet after his career, the film addresses the issue of coming out in French professional football.

The film

The clip starts at a press conference where the player is about to make a revelation. Before he can say a word, he is thrown into a metaphorical football match, in which he faces the obstacles that might prevent him from speaking. In the end, this player has found the strength to overcome his fears and, with the help of the entire world of professional football, players and former players, coaches, referees, journalists and consultants, he reveals his homosexuality. The message carried by the LFP and its partner associations scrolls across the screen: “No longer having to hide your homosexuality is a matter of working together. We will support the players who decide to come out”.

The clip will be broadcast on the digital platforms of the League and the clubs.

“It is a truth, in football it is very difficult to affirm one’s homosexuality, as it is also the case in society. I support these awareness-raising messages, and we must go even further in our desire for change by really giving confidence to those who need to be accepted as they are. If they don’t dare, it’s because they feel somewhere that their living environment is not ready to accept them. This is what touches me the most! Living fully by being yourself, it transforms your life. If, as a footballer, I can amplify this message so that it reaches as many people as possible, I would be very proud!”

Paul Bernardoni (professional footballer at AS Saint-Étienne)

“There are too few examples of footballers who have dared to take the step. This is missing for the football world, but also for all those young people who are going through difficult cases of conscience. We have a role to play for them, to help our society grow, including in this respect.”

Adil Rami (professional footballer at ESTAC Troyes)

“I think that the question is not how we would react if a dressing room mate revealed his homosexuality, but above all how we can enable him to do so? For older people like me, it’s more obvious to come out, but I put myself in the shoes of younger people and I know it’s not easy for them. You have a lot to prove to others and to yourself, and you can quickly find yourself blocked by barriers that have no reason to exist. We have to help remove them, even make them disappear, in football as in the whole society.”

Yannick Cahuzac (professional footballer at RC Lens)

The campaign

Following on from this film, the fight against homophobia will also be materialized on all the pitches of the 37th day of Ligue 1 Uber Eats and the 38th day of Ligue 2 BKT.

For the second season in a row, the clubs have been invited to decorate their players’ shirts with rainbow-coloured numbers, using the rainbow flag, a symbol of peace, diversity and above all a symbol par excellence of the LGBT movement. During the match protocol, players and referees will gather around a poster “Gay or Straight, we all wear the same shirt”. Referees and match delegates will show their support by wearing a rainbow armband, also offered to coaches and TV journalists. At the end of the matches, these exceptional shirts will be auctioned off to benefit the associations Foot Ensemble, PanamBoyz & Girlz United and SOS Homophobie. From Tuesday 17 May at 5pm, the Uber Eats League 1 shirts will be on sale on the MatchWornShirt platform, while the BKT League 2 shirts will be on sale on the BiddingSport platform, until Sunday 29 May at 4pm.

Previous Initiatives

Numerous educational tools have been developed by Foot Ensemble and made available to professional clubs: the documentary “Footballeur et homo: au cœur du tabou” (Footballer and Homo: At the Heart of the Taboo), awareness-raising guides for players, educators and coaches, and a Serious Game “Un Gay dans mon équipe” (A Gay in My Team), an immersive game aimed at analysing the behaviour of your players in certain situations.

As part of the “Open Football Club” civic and cultural programme run by the Fondaction du Football, 14 training centres were made aware of the fight against homophobia by speakers from SOS Homophobie, Foot Ensemble and other anti-discrimination associations. Four other training centres also organised awareness sessions on their own.

This season, for the first time, in association with Foot Ensemble, two workshops were also conducted for supporters.

In addition, in association with UNECATEF, FOOT ENSEMBLE carried out an unprecedented survey on the perception of homosexuality and homophobia among coaches of professional clubs. A total of 78 coaches working with professional groups and in training centres answered a questionnaire. The first results show that homosexuality is widely accepted (90% positive response) by the coaches. 78% of them think that revealing a coming-out will not cause any problems in the dressing room and 50% of them would advise a homosexual player to come out. These encouraging results are also accompanied by a need for training. In this area, 85% of the coaches surveyed want more training or awareness-raising on combating homophobia in football.

LFP Commitment

The Professional Football League has made the fight against all forms of discrimination one of the priorities of its CSR approach and has launched an ambitious programme to ensure that racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and sexism disappear completely from the world of professional football. In collaboration with the clubs and expert partner associations, the LFP is organising dedicated days to raise awareness among all football fans. The LFP has collaborated with the Licra to set up a reporting platform accessible to all. This daily prevention work is accompanied by sanctions when the facts are proven. The LFP uses the Bodyguard solution to counter hate speech on its accounts, and in particular racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic insults targeting French professional football players on social networks. Last February, the LFP received the international FARE award at a ceremony organised by Football v Homophobia, which rewards its commitment to the fight against homophobia.

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