ThroughoutFebruarythousandsofpeopleacrossEuropewillcometogether tocelebratediversityandchallengehomophobiainfootballaspartofthe2015 FootballvHomophobiamonthofaction.
The initiative, organised by the international campaign Football v Homophobia (FvH), was officially launched on Sunday 1 February at the National Football Museum, in Manchester.
In England, the Premier League clash between Arsenal and Aston Villa FC marked the campaign’s first day of activities. During the encounter, Arsenal promoted its Arsenal for Everyone initiative in support of diversity and inclusion, while the club’s LGBT fan group Gay Gooners unveiled on pitch an anti-homophobia banner that will be permanently on display at the Emirates stadium.
The FvH month of action, first held in February 2010, promotes positive action, across grassroots and professional football, against discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity.
Among the highlights of this year’s campaign is the Football Fans v Homophobia conference, which is looking to further the discussions around the role of fans in addressing LGBT-phobia started in 2013 at the Fare and FvH Manchester conference.
FvH director, Lou Englefield said: “At our International Fans v Homophobia conference in 2013, supporters were clear they wanted more fans groups to be involved in campaigning and greater visibility for LGBT people around the grounds.
“Since then we have seen an explosion of LGBT fans groups in the UK and action by fans from the wider community to tackle LGBT discrimination. Our 2015 conference will carry the conversation forward and help supporters define next steps for the movement.”
As part of the 2015 campaign, FvH also awarded 10 small grants to UK grassroots clubs, encouraging the involvement of grassroots football in championing LGBT rights and making the sport safe, welcoming and inclusive for everyone.
In Belgium, the corporate social responsibility partner of the Belgian FA Football+ Foundation has also announced a series of initiatives at grassroots level to mark the LGBT month of action, including workshops and rainbow laces action days.
On 28 February, the Polish club Chrząszczyki and ‘Never Again’ Association will host a football tournament in Warsaw seeking to challenge prejudice, sexism and homophobia, while promoting women’s football. Several Fare members, including the French group Les Dégommeuses and the German organisation DISCOVER FOOTBALL, will also participate in the event. On the day before, the screening of the documentary ‘Thokozani Football Club: Team Spirit’ will kick-off a debate around the topic.
As in previous years, Fare has lent its support to the FvH month of action and is calling on groups in Europe and beyond to join forces and partake in the campaign.
To find out more about the Football v Homophobia activities please visit the 2015 List of Activities.