Our match against Port Vale will be our FvH Match of Action
This month is the international month of Football v Homophobia (FvH) and Gillingham Football Club are supporting the initiative, with our Match of Action this Saturday, February 11 against Port Vale.
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 join together in making a visible stand against prejudice and for inclusion.
The Gills are pleased to be supporting the campaign again this season.
Ian Cox, Equality and Diversity Officer for the Gillingham Football Club Community Trust, said: “We at Gillingham Football Club would like to celebrate and welcome diversity along with challenging any forms of discrimination and prejudice. We believe in a game for all, where LGBT can be seen and heard while contributing to making Gillingham FC a safe, inclusive and enjoyable environment.
“With our Match of Action, we are raising awareness and continuing our journey in adopting a zero tolerance policy towards any forms of homophobia or discrimination against LGBT people. We believe that change comes with education, and we are conscious and proactive in being a positive role model for the community and in leading the way in challenging homophobic behaviour.
"In order to achieve this, Gillingham FC would like to encourage supporters to stand up and roar us on with your support for our efforts to prevent unfair treatment while promoting equality for all. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support in the making the club inclusive for everyone to come and enjoy.”
In the past few months polls have shown that while football fans would be more accepting than ever of a gay player in their team, as many as 72% of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at football matches.
Using homophobic or transphobic language towards someone because you don’t like the way they play football, manage a team, make a refereeing decision or because of whom they support is wrong. It’s against the Laws of the Game and can be a criminal offence, but most importantly, it can make football an intimidating and unpleasant place for fellow fans, players, match officials and administrators of the game.
In recent years, professional footballers Robbie Rogers and Thomas Hitzlsperger, both of whom played in England, publicly announced that they were gay. Both of these players have talked about the challenges of being gay men within professional football, and the impact that anti-gay jokes, language and chanting can have on confidence and self-esteem. Welsh International Jess Fishlock has also spoken about anti-gay abuse she has suffered on social media and has said: “Homophobia in all sports and all genders is a terrible thing. It really shouldn’t be a reason why someone doesn’t play a sport and it certainly shouldn’t be a reason why someone gets abused for playing a sport.”
Attitudes in football are changing, but we all need to make sure that the language we use and the way we behave reflects this change. At Gillingham Football Club we believe we can make a real difference to the culture of football, and we’d like your support. We know that change starts with education and we recognise that Gillingham Football Club have a role to play in leading the way on raising awareness of homophobia and LGBT discrimination within the club and our community.
Gillingham Football Club believe in a game where LGBT people can be seen and heard, and valued for their contribution to football. We 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.
The Gills will be designating a game in support of the Football v Homophobia campaign on Saturday, February 11 against Port Vale. This is an opportunity for our supporters to also get behind the campaign, and show everyone that the MEMS Priestfield Stadium is no place for hate or bigotry.
Find out more about the Football v Homophobia campaign and action you can personally take in February here.
Use #fvh2017 in any social media posts supporting the initiative.