Kick It Out kicks of month of action to combat homophobia in football
Football’s annual month of action against homophobia around the world started this month!
From grassroots to the professional game, football will be sending out the message that discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and trans (LGB&T) people will not be tolerated.
Held on the eve of the month, the launch took place in London and was supported by Kick It Out.
Speakers at the event included Paul Elliott CBE, Chelsea's first black captain and Kick It Out Trustee, who explained his support for the campaign: "Homophobia is not just a problem for LGB&T people.
"Discrimination of any kind is an issue for all of us. It is only if we stand together, acknowledge our differences and unite in our love of football, that real change will start to happen."
Kelly Simmons, head of the national game and women’s football at The FA, was also speaking at the event. Of The FA’s support for the Football v Homophobia Campaign, she said: "The FA is committed to tackling homophobia in the game and we’re delighted to be supporting Football v Homophobia throughout February and beyond.
"Last year saw The FA launch its action plan ‘Opening Doors and Joining In’ which aims to educate on diversity and inclusion. Diversity is represented in The FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations with Stonewall FC’s Aslie Pitter agreeing to be a FA150 ambassador over the next 12 months."
During February action will be taking place throughout football. The recent Football v Homophobia (FvH) small grants scheme saw projects funded in countries such as Russia, Mexico, Germany, and Montenegro amongst others.
Meanwhile, in the UK, events such as Arsenal in the Community’s FvH Schools Tournament will take place alongside grass roots football matches, community activity, a panel discussion on transphobia in football to be hosted at Wembley on 13 February and the launch of the new Football v Homophobia fanzine “STAND OUT” on 15 February.
Football v Homophobia Campaign Director Megan Worthing Davies summarises: "We’re still a young campaign with a huge amount to achieve. Just getting people to talk LGBT and football is great start.
"In the UK where we have some of the best LGBT human rights in the world, getting people to accept that some ‘banter’ on and off the pitch is, in fact, hate speech, can be a challenge.
"As a global campaign, reaching countries where LGBT people still live in daily fear of harassment and violence, we hope that Football v Homophobia can help educate and make a difference."