Gillingham Football Club is proud to support the Football versus Homophobia initiativeFebruary is the international month of ‘Football v Homophobia’ (FvH) and Gillingham Football Club is supporting the initiative.
FvH is a campaign uniting fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the Football Authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in football.
Year round, FvH enables people to take action against prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity in football, and to celebrate and welcome diversity in the game.
This culminates in an international show of support in February to raise awareness of the issue and to showcase new and existing work.
The campaign has been around since 2010 and manages to generate global attention. In the UK there has been a massive show of support and a majority of professional clubs took action in February last year. Gillingham Football Club is pleased to be supporting the campaign again this season.
Ian Cox, GFC Equality and Diversity Officer said: “As a club we proudly support Football v Homophobia in our dedicated Match of Action.
"Football v Homophobia wants football to take a clear stand against homophobia so that everyone can enjoy the beautiful game and so that football leads the way in removing discrimination and prejudice based on gender identity and sexual orientation and all at Gillingham Football Club fully support the campaign.”
Homophobia and LGBT discrimination has long been an issue in football. In 1990 the first professional football player in the UK to come out as gay, Justin Fashanu, had an intense struggle with his sexuality and how it was received in the game.
More recently we have seen Robbie Rogers come out. Robbie retired briefly when he made the announcement about his sexuality. But now, following massive support from players and fans alike, he plays in the US for LA Galaxy.
Last year former Premier League player Thomas Hitzlsperger also came out as gay. Both of these players have talked about the challenge of being gay and working as professional footballers, and the impact that anti-gay jokes and language can have on confidence and self-esteem.
Casey Stoney, former England Women’s Captain has also spoken out about her sexuality. Whilst she felt accepted within football circles, she has also spoken of her fears of stereotypes and of being judged by the ‘outside world’ for being gay. More than twenty years after our first professional player came out, football is starting to show progress on the issue of homophobia in the game.
However we still have some way to go. Even heterosexual players and supporters can suffer homophobic abuse, when fans and teammates think its ok to call someone ‘gay’ as a term of abuse or make jokes about someone’s sexuality because they don’t fit in with the team or simply because they’re not having a very good game.
Change always starts with education and Gillingham Football Club recognises its duty to lead the way on raising awareness about homophobia and LGBT discrimination within the club and its community.
Gillingham Football Club believes in a game where LGBT people can be seen and heard, and appreciated for their contribution to the football family. Therefore Gillingham Football Club will work to create a safe and inclusive football environment for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We want our supporters to help us achieve this.
Gillingham Football Club held a designated game in support of the Football v Homophobia campaign on February 7 when the Gills took on Sheffield United.
This is an opportunity for our supporters to also get behind the campaign and shows everyone that Gillingham Football Club is no place for hate or bigotry.
Supporters can find out more about the Football v Homophobia campaign by visiting the website: www.footballvhomophobia.com.
You can also keep up to date with all the news by following the campaign on Twitter: @FvHTweets or liking the Facebook page: www.bit.ly/fvhpage. You can also use #fvh2015 in any tweets or Facebook posts supporting the initiative.
All pictures courtesy of Sports Images.