Iniesta and Alves lead FC Barcelona campaign against homophobia in football14 May 2015

FCBarcelonastarsDanielAlvesand AndrésIniestahavejoinedtheCatalanclubintheirnewandunprecedentedcampaigninSpanishfootballtochallengeandraiseawarenessofhomophobiainthesport.

The two players and a number of other well-known Barcelona supporters, such as Sister Lucía Caram and the Spanish journalist and comedian Manel Fuentes, participate in a video which narrates a goal for diversity.

The video is the first of a series of initiatives that the club is organising to address LGBT discrimination in football. In collaboration with the Barcelona-based LGBT sports club Panteres Grogues, FC Barcelona will host today (14 May), at Camp Nou, a roundtable to explore the current situation of homophobia in Spanish sport.

The roundtable will be followed by the signing of a letter of commitment to fight homophobia and promote inclusion.

Homophobia in Spanish sport
Around the world, a growing number of clubs, leagues, national and international sports associations have reinforced their policies to ensure an inclusive and diverse environment within their sports and for their LGBT athletes and fans. The coming out of sport icons over the recent years have also helped further the discussions around the topic and raise awareness of homophobia in sport.

However, in Spain, campaigners consider that when it comes to sport the topic is still a taboo.

Rubén López of Federación estatal de lesbianas, gays, transexuales y bisexuales (FELGTB) said: “When the tennis player Martina Navratilova came out, several athletes across the world followed her steps, but not in Spain.

“In football, this behaviour [homophobic] is still tolerated. When one hears racist chants against a player, people tend to report it. But when it comes to homophobic chanting no one says anything because people feel others will question their sexual orientation too. No one dares to stand up against it.”

Joaquin Piedra, a representative of the University of Seville Physical Education department, added: “In Spain football is currently seen as a sphere dominated by men, with a very pronounced tendency to exclude anyone who deviates from the ‘norm’.

“The heteronormative character of football has turned sexual diversity into a taboo subject.”

Nevertheless, since 2014 several initiatives have tried to counter this tendency.

Tackling homophobia in football
Last month, Fare member ARCO IRIS announced a new and pioneer research to assess the extent of homophobia in Spanish football to be conducted in collaboration with a number of  first division and lower league clubs.

The list of clubs participating includes Córdoba FC, Granada FC, Málaga FC, Sevilla FC, Real Betis Balompie, UD Almeria, Recreativo de Huelva, Cadiz FC, Real Jaén, Linares Deportivo and Marbella FC.

Earlier in February, during the Football v Homophobia Month, FELGTB called on clubs, players and fans to join the month of action and participate in the network’s anti-homophobia campaign.

In October 2014, the LGBT network COLEGAS and the Spanish Professional League of Football (LFP) created a work group to develop a good practice guide to clubs on how to promote diversity and jointly run awareness raising activities.

*The roundtable starts at 7.00pm at Football Club Barcelona. If you wish to attend, please email lluita.homofobia@panteresgrogues.cat.