English football clubs fail to support latest anti-homophobia drive

Government ministers have apparently accused some of England’s most famous football clubs of failing to support a new campaign to stem homophobia in the game. Gay rights activists have endorsed the view some high profile clubs simply aren’t doing enough.

Government ministers have apparently accused some of England’s most famous football clubs of failing to support a new campaign to stem homophobia in the game. Gay rights activists have endorsed the view some high profile clubs simply aren’t doing enough.

An unnamed government source told the Independent newspaper that ministers are ‘furious’ that out of 160 clubs asked to join the campaign only sixteen ultimately gave their support to the cause. The Football V Homophobia promotion launched yesterday and the annual event runs this year until February 26th.

The source told the newspaper, “Football’s in the gutter at the moment”, adding, “And they’ve got real problems with homophobia in dressing rooms and on the terraces. It needs top clubs to speak out repeatedly and as publicly as possible.”

The criticism follows three high profile seemingly homophobic incidents with players. Last week the Football Association charged West Ham player Ravel Morrison with making a violently-worded gay slur on a social networking website while in January this year Leicester City footballer Michael Ball was fined £6000 by the FA for an anti-gay comment on Twitter and Oxford City football club sacked player Lee Steele for a homophobic joke posted online. He was later fined £200 by the football govenerning body.

All of the 20 Premier League clubs joined up to the 2011 launched Sport Charter which aims to promote equality within the world of games, The Premier League and our member clubs believe that everyone should be able to participate in, watch and enjoy sport – whoever they are and whatever their background.” Said Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League, adding, “We are pleased to reaffirm our commitment with each of our clubs signing the charter.”

However only a handful have pleged their endorsement to the Football v Homophobia campaign. Clubs that have given their backing include Newcastle United, Liverpool FC, Midlands’ Aston Villa, Norwich City and London’s Arsenal.

“We heard back from many clubs who said, ‘We’ve signed up to the charter so we’re not going to be involved with Football v Homophobia’.” Megan Worthing-Davies, director of Football v Homophobia, told The Independent. While a Stonewall spokesperson said for the gay-rights charity, “Actions speak louder than words, and it’s one thing to sign a charter, it’s quite another then to actually do the hard stuff like training officials and stewards to make sure they challenge homophobia when they see it.”

Nearly 3000 individuals and clubs have signed up to the Sports Charter compared to the sixteen participating clubs to the latest initiative.