German club Darmstadt 98 introduce first LGBT affairs officer in Bundesliga

Bundesliga underdogs Darmstadt 98 have initiated what might become the next big move to further LGBT inclusion in German professional football.

The club, which was recently promoted to the top division, have announced the employment of the first LGBT affairs officer in the league.

The Fan- und Förderabteilung (FuFa), the club’s supporters department, announced on Wednesday, 28 July, Frank Zulauf, a club member and homosexual supporter himself, as the person in charge for the club’s anti-homophobia actions and LGBT affairs.

With the move FuFa want to provide a specialised point of contact for people who are affected by homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and have questions or require related support.

Darmstadt 98 are the second team in Germany to announce a LGBT affairs officer. The first one was the amateur club VfR Mannheim, whose manager, Sven Wolf, is also the responsible for the LGBT affairs department at the regional football association, Baden.

In 2013, after the adoption of the Berlin declaration on homophobia, diversity and respect, all 21 German regional FAs became obliged by law to employ a LGBT affairs officer, but so far only Baden complied with the agreement.

To Fare, Sven Wolf said: “Several clubs have signed the Berlin declaration, but for many that was all.

“Besides Sankt Pauli and Werder Bremen, who have non-official LGBT affairs officers, what is happening around LGBT support is rather poor and the German Football Association (DFB) and the League (DFL) are to blame.

“The DFB, who also signed the declaration, published a brochure about homosexuality in football, but never employed their LGBT affairs officer”.

Talking about actions to help bridge the gap on education around homosexuality in football, Wolf commended the work of the former German international, Thomas Hitzelsperger, who regularly visits schools and conducts workshops for players, youth leaders and managers.

“If the DFB furthered their duties on this matter and continued the actions started by others, this could lead to a cascade effect across regional FAs and clubs.”

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