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Friday, December 30, 2011

JUST A BALL GAME?-''HAPPY NEW YEAR''





    JUST A BALL GAME? would like to thank all those who have helped out and supported our efforts over the year 2011 and wish all campaigners and activists a HAPPY NEW YEAR for 2012.



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

MEDIA RELEASE dec 2011 HYDE FC first BLUE SQUARE NORTH club to sign' CHARTER'

       MEDIA RELEASE   JUST A BALL GAME?  December 2011.


                             info.justaballgame@yahoo.com
                 HYDE FC to tackle homophobia in football.

A little bit of history was made last night (05/12/11) at Ewen Fields when HYDE FC become the first Blue Square Bet North  football club to officially sign up to the Government ‘charter against homophobia and transphobia in sport’ after their 4-1 home win against Eastwood.


The Tigers pride themselves on being very much a community club and they welcomed Lindsay England from football’s LGBT campaigning organization JUST A BALL GAME? as a guest for the home fixture, and Manager Gary Lowe and player Gianluca Haveren were more than happy to add a signature to the charter committing the club to challenging homophobia and taking a zero tolerance to any anti-gay abuse or chanting within the game.

The club have also stated they will look at hosting a celebrity match or training session and invite LGBT players to attend to help celebrate LGBT History Month in February of next year.
Until stepping down early this year former Director of Hyde FC, Julie Whitehead was the only ‘out’ lesbian involved in the semi-professional game in a senior managerial role, showing Hyde FC are one of the most inclusive teams in the country.



Contact: Lindsay England.  
                                          info.justaballgame@yahoo.com
                                         

Friday, November 25, 2011

HOMOPHOBIA IN SPORT- SURVEY nov. 2011

                                                   justaballgame.blogspot.com

 
              MEDIA RELEASE November 2011.   JUST A BALL GAME?   -SURVEY.

      A LOOK AT HOMOPHOBIA IN SPORT.

The research published in this documentation was conducted by Lindsay England founder of “Just a Ball Game?” (“JBG?”)  in partnership with the TUC’s LGBT Committee. This survey is the second phase of three pieces of research conducted by "JBG?". The first being a report titled ‘’We’re not homophobic.’’

During the summer of 2011, Just a Ball Game? conducted a short survey to look into HOMOPHOBIA in SPORT. Below are the key findings from the survey.


a.         Just over a third, 34%,feel the need to participate in sport or leisure activities in a ‘safe space’ by being part of LGBT/LGBT friendly clubs or groups solely .
b.         Over 2/3rds stated they experienced homophobia in sport.
c.         Only 26% of respondents to the survey reported any of the homophobia they witnessed to an appropriate body.
d.         Only 8 out of 92 who responded to the question ‘’Do you feel satisfied with the responses you got when you reported the homophobia?’’ felt that the response they got after reporting the homophobia was satisfactory.
e.         Despite the amount and levels of homophobia around sport over 60% of those who answered the survey say they attend sport events on a regular basis.

Just a Ball Game? believe that ‘’For LGBT’s to be fully accepted, respected and integrated as athletes we need to eradicate the conservative environment which still pretends there is no homosexuality in sport. As homophobia constitutes its self in many forms and there is a need for education throughout both professional and grass roots sports to fully understand this, one of the biggest steps taken would be for a zero tolerance to be introduced by all involved. Sport also needs to be more open and show visibility to any work achieved around LGBT inclusion. ’’
 ‘’SAY NO TO HOMOPHOBIA IN SPORT’’

___________________________________________________________________

Contact: Lindsay England    info.justaballgame@yahoo.com
                                         djlindsayengland@gmail.com
     

Thursday, November 10, 2011

CWU Day of Action -just a ball game? MEDIA RELEASE


            

           JUST A BALL GAME?  MEDIA RELEASE nov. 2011.

     COMMUNICATION WORKERS UNION (CWU) day of action.

Just a Ball Game?  would like to announce that Bradford City  will become the 3rd Professional Football Club to sign to the government ‘CHARTER’ taking action  against homophobia and transphobia in sport, after they confirmed they will be publicly signing up to the charter prior to their home fixture against Plymouth Argyle on December 10th 2011.
This will form part of a whole day of action addressing homophobia and transphobia in football by the CWU at Valley Parade and Bradford City will become the first UK  Professional Football Club (under Football League ruling and acceptance) to allow literature addressing anti-gay issues and LGBT issues to be distributed at a game.
The CWU have been campaigning for over 3 years for strong action to be taken and its National Equality Officer Linda Roy said ‘’ The CWU have been campaigning for a long time on rising awareness on homophobia in sport and we are very pleased that Bradford City FC have agreed to host our Day of Action.’’
The CWU will be supported on the day by groups such as the TUC,who will be there handing out leaflets to fans as they arrive. They will then also be a part of the public signing up to the ‘CHARTER’ by the club and the celebrations as Just a Ball Game? announce that Bradford City will receive an award in recognition of the clubs continued efforts in challenging homophobia in football since the changes made to the ground rules and regulations in 2007.
Founder of Just a Ball Game? Lindsay England says ‘’ Bradford City has always been very much a community focused club and although like many other lower league sides have priorities in investing in the playing side, diversity also plays a big role in the clubs existence. I have worked with club officials and the Bradford City Supporters Trust and others to try eradicate anti-gay views held by a small section of our fan base and I believe that the commitment by the club itself to signing up to the ‘CHARTER’ is a huge step forward. It sends out the right message to both our support and visiting support to Valley Parade .One message which I hope many other UK football teams will now follow.’’

So far over 2,000 professional sports teams, groups, individuals and grass roots competitors have now signed the government charter for action against homophobia in sport. Please sign up today at…https://www.facebook.com/#!/lgbtsportcharter




______________________________________________
Contact:

Monday, October 31, 2011

LGB sport -mad week or mad world?


FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) weeks of action -cake.


Well what a busy last week in October 2011 it has been for LGBT sports people!

Just slightly off tack I would like to say huge congratulations to my friend Elly Barnes a music teacher, trainer and diversity officer from London who topped the IoS Pink List this year, it was well deserved.
While we are on the pink list Steven Davies England's one day and 20/20 wicketkeeper-batsman was also in there at number 12.

Here in Manchester we had the official launch of Just a Ball Game?(JBG?)as a campaigns and activist group,a year on from starting out as a blog.Then LGBT sports people from Northern Wave Swim Club and Manchester Sharks Water Polo side joined football fans in a Sports Swap event as part of this years FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) grass roots events which aimed to bring another strand to the campaign by raising awareness around LGBT issues in the game as part of the annual weeks of action.
John Amaechi, Gareth Thomas, Bristol rugby player Jed Hooper, featured in news items while Wycombe Wanderers and Charlton Athletic become the first 2 professional teams in football to sign up to the government charter. A little further afield in Germany a former Wolfsburg player dismisses once again gay rumours, and Abby Wambach is highlighted as endorsements don't follow those of fellow teammate Hope Solo, while both women look set to find new sides to turn out for with the WPSL enforcing a ruling and closing the club down.
So lets have a look in a little bit more detail as to what has happened over the last 10 days shall we.

England cricketer Steven Davies, 24, who also plays for county side Surrey 'came out' earlier this year, the first professional in modern day Cricket to do so.This was a huge effort on Steven's part as his family and close friends had known for a number of years his sexuality but he wanted his team mates to know the truth also and took a big step in telling them. On doing so Steven became one of only a handful of LGBT sports people to announce their sexual orientation publicly while they are still a playing professional.Seen as a role model to aspire too for a younger generation the Pink List this year recognised Steven's efforts to raise awareness of LGBT participation in professional sport and put him at number 12 on the list.

Just a ball Game? started out 12 months ago as a blog off the back of 5 years work in and around lgbt issues in football and the challenges that are faced in dealing with homophobia in the beautiful game.As things now need to be taken to the next level JBG? will be applying for funding over the coming weeks and months to extend on ideas and activities to raise awareness around LGBT inclusion in the game and has now been launched officially as a constituted campaigns group.
The launch although low key its-self was part of this years FARE event in Manchester when local LGBT swimmers joined local lgbt football fans for a Sports Swap event.The football fans attended the regular swim/ water polo session and then the swimmers in turn (joined by lgbt runners/ tennis players and other local lgbt people and reps from unions) spent a few hours entertaining at Taurus Bar later that evening when the dvd about an LGBT football team ''KICK OFF'' was shown (some liked it so much they asked to take it home with them to watch again),and as well as handing out give aways to the general public and asking them to sign the government 'CHARTER' against homophobia and transphobia in sport the event was rounded off with a light-hearted Table Football Challenge!

A couple of days later JBG? carried on the FARE weeks of action campaign handing  out badges/posters/flyer's and posed for many photos with local fans in Zwolle,before the Holland v England women's international qualifying game.




                             
   Northern Wave Swim Club and LGBT Football fans at FARE weeks of action event-Taurus,Manchester.



Manchester also saw one of it's very own LGBT heroes honoured this week when ex-NBA star John Amaechi who told the world of sport he was a gay man shortly after retiring from playing professionally, received his OBE(which was announced in June this year)from Prince Charles in recognition of his services to sport and the voluntary sector.

Sadly we see that Gareth Thomas who in his professional career played both codes announced his official retirement from international and club rugby a few days ago at the age of 37.A proud Welshman born in Bridgend,Mr Thomas who played much of his early career in union then switched codes to league a couple of years ago and stated he was gay, was one of the only a few in the game to do so, Australian League's Ian Roberts and and fellow Welshman (who was an assistant ref in the recent Rugby Union World Cup Final in New Zealand) ref Nigel Owens being the others.Gareth said he will always have a great passion for the sport but felt it was time to hang up his boots as he could no longer give a 100%.

Following in Gareth's footsteps we see 22 year old Jed Hooper captain and back row forward of Bristol rugby team Old Redcliffians make a media announcement to disclose he is gay after telling his family and friends at the start of the the year.
Mr Hooper is a hotly tipped prospect to be a star athlete in the future and he decided that he didn't want to hide who he was any more,and after firstly trying to deny to himself his sexuality now sees that his ability to be open has changed him as a person and for the better lifting a huge weight from his shoulders.He hopes that he can now inspire others who are in the same situation he was that there is light at the end of the tunnel and to not bottle things up, ''trust me the world is not against you.''


                        Old Redcliffians player Jed Hooper.



In August this year we saw Bury defender Efe Sodje become the first professional football player in the UK to sign up to the governments 'CHARTER' he has been joined this week by 2 professional football clubs from league 1 in Wycombe Wanderers and Charlton Athletic. Captain of Wycombe and the club's PFA representative Matt Bloomfield and Charlton boss Chris Powell signed on behalf of their teams who have now committed to tackle homophobia and transphobia in the sport.Support for the 'CHARTER' has been steadily growing and over 2000 NGB's sports stars past and present and grass roots teams and players and fans have now signed up to the initiative.Lets hope its not too long before all 90 remaining professional football clubs in the top 4 English divisions follow suit and also sign up helping to challenge the anti-gay feelings and abuse there unfortunately is within the game.

Over in Germany this year we have seen the topic of homophobia and 'gay players' discussed on a number of occasions in the past 12 months with much debate both for and against whether a player 'coming out' would be good for themselves and the sport. The most recent to do so is former Wolfsburg international player Arne Friedrich who when questioned on a talk show TV interview was once again found to be playing down speculation about his own sexuality,the day after his girlfriend of 10 years even commented on the issues of her partner.The player himself said he does find it a little odd when the word 'gay' comes up on Google in association with his name and says ''there is no debate, as far as I am concerned,'' adding he had ''never met a player who I even suspected of being gay, but if that was the case, it would have been OK as well.''
When he was questioned further about the possibility of a player coming out he replied, ''I think it would be quite difficult,especially in football,there would probably be some headwind.''
German football itself through the FA has been pro-active for a number of years now fighting homophobia and most of the Bundesliga teams have their own LGBT fan clubs who are identifiable in the stadiums.Its generally thought in Germany that improvement is still needed so that the situation of a player still in the profession will feel confident to announce their sexuality and continue to play and be accepted, this could be achieved by education, coupled with stricter punishment for homophobic behavior on and off the field.Also that once the stigma itself is targeted,the fear felt by those affected will alleviate,too. 


As we hear this week that USA stars of the Women's World Cup Abby Wambach and Hope Solo are looking for a new club to play for next season as Magic Jack have had their franchise terminated by the WPSL (women's professional soccer league) following conflicts over sponsorship signs at matches and other expenses leading to points deductions and accusations of failing to pay bills tarnishing the leagues reputation, the women are also subject of media reports on their personal endorsements and their marketability.
Its been reported that while the players share similar adulation of the fans of their club and country and have similar attitudes towards playing the game and a love of it, and quite the same personalities, even long standing endorsements with high profile companies, they are seen as being a world away in terms of how these companies including ESPN value them because of their different sexualities.When Hope is very much seen as someone who can sell 'heterosexy' Abby is not, and true to form the very thought of selling Wambach to lesbians is out of the question! So, for now while we see Solo on DWTS, appearing on the cover of sports magazines and turning down shoots for male magazines and pulling in millions worth of dollars we don't see Wambach doing the same.This is often brushed off with comments that Abby doesn't court the same publicity,but it is not widely known that she 'is out' but its not a secret either and some of the coverage she has heavily points to the 'lesbian thing' of it all, and we can't have that can we,its not good PR and so little time or space is given to a strong successful female athlete if she is not heterosexual or perceived to be one.
Quite something when you think that 30 years on from professional tennis and the companies who sponsored it having this attitude, sport and its associates are still living in the dark ages around LGBT players.
So a mixed week for LGBT sports people, but was it a mad week or a mad world?


                                      USA football player Abby Wambach.

dj lindsay.



31/10/2011.

info.justaballgame@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

first professional player to sign up to 'CHARTER'

          MEDIA RELEASE.       13/09/2011.             

Efe Sodje, Bury and Nigerian defender,-first Professional Football Player to sign up to the Government ‘CHARTER’.

On the eve of the recent 21st birthday celebrations for Manchester Pride, the local LGBT sports teams and organizations gathered to kick off the weekends main events with the annual ‘It’s a Gay Knockout’ at Taurus Bar on Canal St.
This year, ‘loud and proud’ best wishes and a signed football, were sent to those competing from Bury and Nigeria defender Efe Sodje who took time out from his hectic pre-match routine and scheduled commitments to his own charity ‘The Sodje Sports Foundation (which aims to be inspiring and empowering for children and youths, as a result of promoting education through life skills and sport) to be available for a photo opportunity to help raise the awareness of LGBT inclusion in football.
 Just a Ball Game? were pleased to join Efe and Senior Executive of Equality-Simone Pound, at the PFA’s Head Quarters in Manchester where Efe became the first professional football player to sign up to the governments, ‘charter for action against homophobia and transphobia in sport’
the charter being initiated  as a direct idea and proposal to the GEO  at a TUC/Alliance meeting last December.
Efe is well aware ‘’how tuff things will be for the next professional player in football from the UK to ‘come out’ as they continue their playing career’’, and how much ‘’intrusion and unnecessary attention there will be from the press and media’’, and that unfortunately many bigoted supporters will not tolerate the announcement, Efe also thinks ‘’the player will have to be very brave and strong’’.
Efe spoke of how he himself is still subjected to abuse during games from the seemingly uneducated fans in stands and on terraces,(those these may not be the majority) even after all these years of many campaigns and events centered around minority inclusion in football.
Efe believes the fans  homophobia would be difficult to deal with, but thinks that from a professional game perspective ‘’the player would be accepted within a dressing room environment, and that team mates he hopes would be supportive.’’
As we are aware football still has a long way to go to even begin to state the game is becoming accepting of any LGBT’s who play, and indeed those who spectate as the game is institutionally homophobic, much work is needed to be done and everyone in the game from the very top, down through to grass roots has to take on some responsibility in dealing with this. The PFA are making small but welcome steps forward down that long road recently producing a poster to be displayed in professional teams dressing rooms, and they continue to be supportive of campaigns work and engage with the activist groups like, just a ball game and the TUC/Alliance group.

Lindsay England…

justaballgame.blogspot.com/


13/09/2011.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

LGF news article

Here is a news item reproduced from a recent online article from the LGF which appeared over the summer after an interview with myself.

With kind permission from the LGF and their news team.

http://www.lgf.org.uk/news/opinion-ugly-side-to-the-beautiful-Philip Lahm calling for gay players to stay in the closet, MPs telling them to come out, FIFA President Sepp Blatter begging gay men not to have sex at the Qatar World Cup and the recent release of the report into Internet based football fans' homophobia: it's no wonder that the relationship between homophobia and football is constantly in the headlines.We're Not Homophobic, allout campaign have started a petition encouraging football's governing body FIFA to take a stand against such discrimination.change.org are currently calling on the newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester United to make an It Gets Better video to support LGB&T youth.The Justin Campaign
The Football AssociationJust a ball gameGay Football Supporters Network Village Manchester

OPINION: Ugly side to the beautiful game

Publish Date: 29/06/2011
     
Jack Stacey on the confusing swirl of homophobia and acceptance in the world’s most inclusive game.
                                                                                                                                                         Homophobia in football is nothing new, but has had a more significant focus of late. It seems that all the instances concerning the subject of homosexuality in football have culminated at the same time.
With Bayern Munich player,
The Women's World Cup kicked off this weekend and already a microcosm of the conflicting attitudes towards being  gay and kicking a ball around a pitch has flared up.
On the one hand, you have host nation Germany, proclaiming "It's ok to be gay". While the Nigerian team have allegedly sent the members of their squad suspected of being gay back home. In response, the
Closer to home Everton FC got involved with a number of community projects over IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia), while America's
Surely in this country, it is the responsibility of the FA to take decisive action to eradicate any forms of prejudice within the sport. It is not as though there are no gay rights campaigners banging at their door; the problem seems to be that there is no one at home.
Numerous attempts have been made to launch awareness of homophobic attitudes within football. The anti-homophobia film which the FA commissioned last year received a mixed response; swirled in criticism and controversy since its inception, the one and a half minute video of a man hurling homophobic abuse at commuters and work colleagues and then at players from a football stand, had its release at Wembley postponed, leading many to question the FA's sincerity.
Prominent retired NBA basketball player, turned gay activist, John Ameachi O.B.E perhaps put it best in his blog: "Ninety seconds of bad language that will only be seen on the internet is not a solution to the problems faced by football and the concept of trying to create a 'viral video' to combat homophobia in football feels crass at best."
It seems to a lot of people, Mr Ameachi included, that no one area if addressed will solve the problem of homophobia in football. The approach needs to be holistic to tackle what appears to be a form of discrimination which is inherent and difficult to deal with, yet often based on casualness and ignorance.
The repeat offenders and hard-line homophobes need to be ejected or arrested while those who obviously don't know any better need to be educated. Too long has the terrace been a safe place for chauvinists and it is about time that they are held to account.
The We're Not Homophobic research was conducted over a period of 16 weeks last year, internet mediums for football fans were studied and it was found that just 400 links had over 8,000 threads containing homophobic wording, of these 1,500 contained homophobic abuse and anti-gay hate.
It's tragic that 13 years after Justin Fashanu's suicide - the only high profile professional footballer ever to come out - widespread homophobia still continues in the game.
The recent coming out of Swedish footballer Anton Hysen is perhaps a glimmer of hope - so to is the FA working in partnership with The Justin Campaign, but there are still lots of challenges ahead.
It seems what has emerged is a type of stand-off between the administration, the players and the fans. Surely, this means that it is about time someone plucked up the kahunas and made the first move.




Links





Thursday, July 21, 2011

IT'S A GAY KNOCKOUT


                                                TAURUS BAR       
                             PRIDE GAMES and JUST A BALL GAME?
                                                  bring you
                                       ‘’It’s a gay knockout’’
                             Thursday 25th August, 8pm onwards.
                                Come along and join in the action.

         Several local LGBT sports clubs and community organisations will compete in the fun to help kick off the weekend and celebrate 21 years of Manchester Pride.
                  Sign up to ‘the Charter ‘ (against homophobia and transphobia in sport) and take two minutes to complete the JUST A BALL GAME? survey, looking at homophobia in sport.
           Monday 22nd Aug. (15.30-16.30) will see the launch with VBA,  TAURUS BAR and first of the sports groups sign up and display ‘the Charter’ in the bar, followed by more teams Tues/Wed/Thurs till we have 21.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

homophobia in sport- the survey



Media release:           JUST A BALL GAME?  A survey looking at homophobia in sport.            Media release.





                                                                                  
A week ago Just A Ball Game?  (justaballgame.blogspot.com) went live with a survey looking at homophobia in sport.
 Just A Ball game?  are inviting  sport’s people, in particular those who identify as LGBTQI to fill out this survey which will be live until 1 September 2011.
The link for the survey is: http://app.fluidsurveys.com/s/justaballgame/, it is very easy to complete and will take only around 2 or 3 minutes of your time to do so. You can complete the survey whether you are active in a sport or leisure activity or even if you only watch live sport as a fan. There is no limit to how many times you can take the survey so you are able to fill in details on the 17 questions, as a sports participant and then do so again as a spectator if you wish too.
In May this year Just  A Ball Game?  completed over 240 hours of research looking at homophobia found on the internet,  from football fans forums and message boards and put out research findings from this. The research can be found with this link: http://justaballgame.blogspot.com/2011/05/media-release-were-not-homophobic.html




The fluid survey,  http://app.fluidsurveys.com/s/justaballgame/,   looking at HOMOPHOBIA IN SPORT is part of Just A Ball Game?  on-going research, campaigning  and activist work  which is recognised by many LGBT sport groups and organisations including the JUSTIN CAMPAIGN, and also by the TUC (trades  union congress) CWU (communication workers union)  PFA (professional footballers’ association) to name just a few.
As an alternative to filling out the survey on line, if you live in Manchester or will be around the last week in August as part of the many events to celebrate Manchester Pride’s 21st birthday you can fill out the survey form and hand it too Just A Ball Game? representatives who will be present at venues Taurus (including 25th Aug. for IT’S A GAY KNOCKOUT)  and Vanilla throughout the whole week.
Lindsay England author of the JUSTABALLGAME.BLOGSPOT.COM, says that ‘’although LGBT participation in sport is still very much a taboo subject it is important that the community has a voice and a platform where views, opinions and concerns can be aired. A number of ‘straight allies ‘ are being found and it’s hoped that sooner rather than later much progress can be made to help change society’s attitudes around the inclusion of LGBT’s  in sport and their skills and talent can be enjoyed and admired and aspired too by young and old alike.’’

Sunday, June 26, 2011

women's world cup players 'proud an kicking'







PROUD AND KICKING?

 

off on 26th July 2011 when hosts Germany entertain Canada, and the German's aim to write their names into the history books once again. But, just how many of those players from the 16 teams competing do so as 'proud and kicking athletes?'



Certainly there will be two LGBT community members in the squads for that first game, as last year Nadine Angerer Germany's Goalkeeper declared herself to be bisexual, and fellow team mate Ursula Holl recently married her girlfriend. Angerer should win her 100th national cap in the tournament, and she stated that she came out as she wanted to reinforce the fact that hetrosexuality should not be a given in football. Several of the German squad are actually 'out' but we all know how the media plays things, then there's the fact that sexism and homophobia are an unwanted combination in all women's sports. Being an LGBT women can cost you your job as a coach or manager, straight women remain silent as many can see their aspirations squashed if they are perceived to be LGBT.
It's time football adopted the motto for this years 'CHRISTOPHER ST DAY ' events in Berlin (taking place the same weekend as the WC tournament kicks off) which has a sport theme 'Fairplay to Diversity.'


Then there is out lesbian and striker Jessica Landstrom, a Swede who plays for FFC Frankfurt, then er, er well that's about it really.There are others who are known and out to their own teams and fellow country women, some even known to the public, but the reluctance of the media to take the women's game seriously, let alone give text space to any of the players differing lifestyles means very few are spoken about.






Miss Landstrom had been 'out' to friends and family for some time, but decided to go public through Swedish magazine QX about here relationship with girlfriend Sara in 2008, this a gesture and acknowledgment to the couples commitment to each other.
Jessica has played over 50 times for Sweden, and not only does she have a talent for sport but she is also qualified in Mechanical Engineering.







So we know of the Europeans, but what of the English? Unfortunately those who are in and around the England Women's football team are very much in the closet. They maybe 'out' to close pals or family but nothing has come from any women in the game personally by way of speaking about their sexuality to help inspire a new generation, and be great role models to look up to. A sad tale really when you consider 2008/9 season figures stated that 260,000 women play football in England and 1.1million girls. Surely at least one must 'play for the other team?'


When I asked Hope Powell (England head coach) and Rachel Pavlou an FA coach at an event for teenager girls in Manchester last year what had been done in the last 12 years to attract and accommodate young LGBT women to the game, to play or coach or referee, and what the FA's plans were for say a further 12 years, the reply came back that nothing had been done, 'we don't cater for specific groups, all women and girls are welcome from all ages and abilities, from whatever backgrounds we welcome all there is no discrimination.'


I pointed out that figures had been given of specific groups to show how well the FA were doing in developing the game for females, but nothing mentioned being inclusive of LGBT's.There was nothing to show LGBT's would be in a learning environment which was safe for them.The answer that came back was 'there was no need to be inclusive of LGBT's as discrimination had never been an issue on any of the FA courses that either Rachel or Hope had been involved in the 12 years they had worked for the FA and my concerns were unnecessary and not relevant, as i had been the only person they had ever met who had questioned this.'


I asked Rachel if it was possible for her and Hope to run an LGBT only training session or event ( like this evening ) for local LGBT’s here in Manchester at some point in the future, and Rachel said ''its unlikely as they don’t think there is a need stating once again that ok, I my have had a problem somewhere along the line but this was just unfortunate and nothing she had ever come across. Rachel then said any way things like this would have to be arranged through the new EQUALITY Standard set by the FA.''


What is it then do we think which stops the top female stars in the UK from not being comfortable enough to disclose any personal persuasion? I have herd it stated many a time over the last 5 years or so by those working in football authorities and organisations that the atmosphere HAS to change and the TIME HAS to be RIGHT before anyone in football of which ever gender feels they can say they are in a same sex relationship. But just how long do we have to wait for the atmosphere too change? Will the time ever be right? When people needed to stand up for themselves around issues of racism 20/25 years ago did they all say, hey we best hang on till the time is right? No, they just got on with things they had seen and herd enough and took a stand. LGBT's in football (or any other sport for that matter) come out,come out where ever you are.We need our queer pioneers.


''THIS IS THE TIME, THE TIME FOR ACTION.''


One member of the infamous Dick Kerr Ladies team, Lily Parr a proud and kicking Lesbian, did take action 90 years ago when the FA banned all women from playing the game, and no male member of the association was allowed to referee or be a linesman in a unofficial game. Lily didn't care what the world thought about her being lesbian and could be seen around and about often with her girlfriend Mary, and insisted in being paid for the games she played in with Woodbine cigarettes!
Lily played in the first ever recognised international fixture for women when an England side hosted the French.She was said to have been a bit of a cult hero with her antics both on and off the field. Years after her death Lily, was inducted into the HALL OF FAME by the FA, and there was an out cry from the LGBT community as the FA failed to do what they they stated they would do and make a full apology and honour Lilly Parr. Instead a news item in 2008 was printed which was written about a game played in Regents park London to recognise her achievements, the article never even mentioned that the game was part of LGBT History Month or that she was a lesbian. In 2013 the FA will celibrate it's 150th birthday, perhaps this would be a good time for both the FA and Newcastle United ( the team who called for the women's game ban) to put things right.


One of the most disturbing news items to come to light a couple of weeks ago was that of certain members of the Nigerian women's team for the World Cup who were axed from the final squad simply because they were, or percieved to be LGBT!
It's reported that coach of the Super Falcons, Eucharia Uche and ex NFF technical assistant Sir James Peter have spoken of their indepth knowledge of how lesbian 'operate' and they were given instructions and restrictions as to how they could conduct themselves whilest with the team, that is, certain players could not room together. Peter said while he was part of the back room set up for the squads in the

The Women's World Cup kicksrecent African Women's Championships and China WC 'the act was rampant.' He dropped players he 'knew' were lesbian.
Eucharia stated ''dispit the presence of lesbians in the female national team, these 'problems' can be solved with proper spitual councelling.''
And what of FIFA when they got to hear of such actions we ask, well they added to the discrimination in true FIFA style by continuing with their headlines and front pages highlighting the teams on their web site, when it was the turn of the Nigerian squad they added a picture and in the text said that some of the players would miss the World Cup because of 'a lack of fitness' so just for a change an issues is glossed over and no one wants to talk about the impact of homophobia within the game. The institution that is FIFA burried its head in the sand and maintained a polite silence.
Well after all being LGBT and being a female athlete does challenge the staus quo. And long may it continue.








dj lindsay 2011.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MEDIA RELEASE We're not homophobic

                                                           Media Release

In contrast to academic research carried out over the last couple of years which asked questions to either specific persons, or, asked questions in order to gain specific types of answers, this research has been carried out by observing  ‘homophobic content ‘ which was found on internet mediums and comes from football fans from a number of differing walks of life.

Over a period of 16 weeks in spring 2010, internet mediums for football fans were studied and it was found that just 400 links had over 8,000 threads containing homophobic wording, of these no less than 1,500 contained homophobic abuse, anti-gay hate of a vile nature.
Examples- ‘all gays should die,’ ‘homosexuality is a disease or brain damage of some sort,’ ‘ fucking scum of humanity stone them to death,’

Over 48% of the homophobia was what’s considered ‘general/casual, verbal abuse,’ that is of a ‘soft ‘nature.
Examples- ‘what’s the problem with homophobia it’s a bit of banter?’ ‘I don’t think teasing or taunting people who are gay counts as being homophobic.’ ‘I don’t want any gay trying to cop off with me when I play.’

No less than 5% was aimed directly at football players by so called fans of the game.

QUOTE: Linda Roy, National Equality Officer, CWU.
"It is very sad that even after 13 years since Justin Fashanu took his own life the world of Professional Football has failed to grasp the homophobia problem within football. The big institutions within football have a duty to change the landscape making it 'safe' for footballers, both men and women, to come out. At this moment in time, it is they who are letting the side down!"


QUOTE:
“This report confirms the terrifying reality of homophobia and transphobia in our national sport, and the urgent need for education and action to tackle it at all levels. The TUC believes that the football authorities and the clubs must grasp the need to carry out the anti-discrimination policies they already have on paper. Prejudice can only be defeated if it is effectively challenged.”
Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC




QUOTE:
"The Justin Campaign is very concerned at the high frequency of homophobic remarks made by football fans on message boards. With the likes of Anton Hysen coming out and The FA entering into a partnership with The Justin Campaign, we are finally starting to move things forward. However, the large amount of ugly, casual homophobic abuse peppering the internet shows just how much work we still have to do."
Alan Duffy. Director of Communications for The Justin Campaign.




Homophobia exists in football from grass roots throughout the game to the very top at professional level. This shows that there are barriers around participation of LGBT’s and those who are perceived to be LGBT. A multi-strand approach is required with specific training and education, to address the differing needs of players, coaches/manages, administrators, stewards/security and fans.
The whole of football needs to be more inclusive towards LGBT’s but a lack of investment by all of footballs authorities and individually by clubs means football is failing badly in its education.

Simple things like raising the profile of LGBT’s, and supporting their own existing community initiatives, helping create a safe space, ensuring new equality acts and laws are adhered too, and sanctions are imposed for those who persistently break the regulations, are just some of the many ways to take a zero tolerance and challenge homophobia.


Please find attached a report “We’re not Homophobic.” conducted and written by
Lindsay England author of  blog ‘Justaballgame?’

The blog can be found at:       justaballgame.blogspot.com/     

MEDIA RELEASE 24th may 2011.’We’re not homophobic.’

the full report can be found on this link below.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iT3HvVHeahuIY5fVErf5r60cG4ZOiUf1CQpPzwWQ9QI/edit?hl=en_US

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LEADING THE WAY?

                        mentor and leadership conference


                                     
                                                 


A month ago I attended the Leading the Way conference in London hosted by the FA’s Anti-Racism campaigning organization Kick It Out as part of their recently establish Mentor and Leadership scheme.
Some twelve months ago I signed up for the volunteer based initiative but never got to any of the ‘PANEL’ sessions which took place in Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle, as they were only on weekday early evenings and therefore only relevant to those in the locality, and because I was, like many volunteers who give up their own time to be part of the football world, at work myself.
Another reason why I never juggled things about to enable me to attend was because I became aware of the guests invited for these sessions. Now we are all aware of the good work KIO have done for 2 decades in helping to combat Racism within the game and the organization has to be commended for wanting to bring in other minority groups to its fold and tackle other issues including women’s and girls inclusion and those with a disability and the LGBT community, but to have ‘panel ‘guests listed as those from a Black and Asian  professional men’s background only, did nothing to instill any encouragement that  women players, coaches etc, and anyone male and female who identified as being LGBT  were being catered for.
The London conference I took as giving the scheme a second chance, as many well known faces were lined up as speakers to help reach out with encouragement to those volunteers who wanted to progress with  their workload and possibly attain a career in the game at some capacity.
Sadly my reservations that, although well meaning, the organization was once again not getting things just quite right, around LGBT issues anyway.

I have seen ex Chelsea and Celtic player Paul Elliott speak on a number of occasions, and also had personal conversations with  him and always found him to be very knowledgeable around diversity and really keen to be inclusive of LGBT’s and after his opening speech still think of Paul as being a great addition to our troops in challenging homophobia, although on this occasion his praise of one guest I am unsure about.
Paul stated that the event was to ‘provide people with an opportunity to become involved in football, and that football needs to be inclusive of all communities.’ He also said that 24% of players come from a BME community, but they come through slowly and KIO were hoping to address this.
Paul finished things by saying that a zero tolerance has to be taken and there also needs to be a right mindset from the top of the game.

First up to speak was EHRC’s Trevor Phillips and he stated the following, “There is less bigotry in today’s game because the majority of fans will not join in with the certain chants or abuse.” He then told us that EHRC had given more funding to the Leading the Way conference to continue into 2011/12 season, and 300,000 pounds had been granted to Show Racism the Red Card.
He then touched on topical items and stated that ‘no one wants to see a dad with his daughter sit and watch/ listen too football with commentators like KEYS and GRAY ‘who are scumbags.’
Mr. Phillips then made a gaff and announced “there are no openly gay players in the UK

Really? Only the day before the Yorkshire Terriers annual tournament had seen over 200 LGBT players turn out! Let’s hope what he actually meant to say was that there are no openly LGBT professional players.
He continued asking questions as to why there are only 2% of professional managers in the 92 league clubs who are black? And why are there no Asian managers?
Interestingly he then made a statement that these type of problems in football are not just about football but about society as a whole.(note, many others state that football is behind the times and that society is now more accepting of minority groups.)
He continued ‘What we need from the FA is change.” And “We need people to do the right things while we are not in the room.” He then spoke once more and eluded to the terminology ‘gay ‘ a few times and on one occasion, wait for it, ‘lesbian’  but sadly never used the correct terminology of LGBT!!

The PFA’s Simone Pound was up next, she told us how she took up her role in football when Fulham women needed more representation. Stats were first on the PFA’s agenda and we were told that they have a duty of care to 3,500 members and present players and a further 7,500 former players, and young boys who are coming through the system.
She continued saying “It’s unacceptable and illegal to shout racist abuse at players.” Shame there was no reference to homophobia in that statement which would once again helped to ‘regulize’ and ‘usualize’ things around LGBT issues!
We were told that 8 years ago the PFA called a meeting to address the barriers that are in place, and that education is the backbone of the Union and they hope to guide players back into society if they don’t make it at the top level as only 1 in 3 scholars are offered professional contracts.
We were then told that the PFA had written to every player in the Union and asked them to take part in a new DVD tackling homophobic bullying in schools.
Simone finished by saying “the England women’s team are now on central contracts and are elite and at the top of their game, and all these are also PFA members.

Peter Tatchell was next up and was introduced as a human rights campaigner, you may have seen over the last few weeks that the press picked up only on the fact that Peter stated as he did a couple of years ago that he wanted the FA and top players to make an MTV style video to challenge homophobia, and that together we could effect change, he then touched on the following.
“Two decades ago it was difficult to get anyone in football (FA) to take homophobia seriously and that I used to have any contact ignored or given a polite thank you. (note, things haven’t really progressed much Peter, as a number of stakeholders from the LGBT community are no longer part of the  FA’s THAG and we are ignored now.)
Peter said that he didn’t know of any senior officials who were LGBT.
Peter stated that “we from the LGBT community have taken inspiration from the fight against Racism, and it’s great that the ground regulations are much better, and tougher than they were 20 years ago and that the FA has got it together and now has good paper polices.” (note, they would be Peter if they were ever implemented at games, and that the policies were out in public for all to see and carried out !)
Peter finished by saying, “ I am not in favor of punishing people for prejudice  but if there is something serious then yes, as a last resort.”

During the break I overheard some of the delegates speaking about the DVD that the FA and KIO produced last February and that it was considered to be a waste of time and money as the FA by pulling the launch showed that they did not want to deal with things.

Further speakers at the afternoon Q+A gave their thoughts on a number of issues. Former Chelsea player Paul Canoville believed that “Clubs can do a lot more than they are doing now. After all good practice done these days, some people I know are still too scared to go to games because of what gets said.”
He encouraged those volunteers present who give their time to football from minority backgrounds to carry on being who they are and doing what they are doing.

Joyce Cook chair of Level Playing Field said “There is still a very stereotypical image of disabled people, and that other people have to invest in the human aspect. Those at the top who have a disability have to be visible. And you have to believe in yourself and values. (note, much the same train of thought as Peter here.)

Anna Kessel a well known female journalist in football identified “There is sexism and misogyny in the game, and its patronizing. A lot of women in the media do not like this, but they don’t speak out!”


Moving on to a workshop at the event saw the volunteers given guidance from mentors within football (and sport) from Michael Bennett the PFA’s Education Officer, and former NBA player Jamie Edwards. Edwards was asked to work with Freddie Flintoff prior to that infamous ASHES win 5 in 2005, and now has England Rugby Union player Lewis Moody as a client.
Mr. Edwards spoke while everyone took notes and then held a little lit of a team bonding exercise for everyone in the room and it was here that,  not for the first time at this conference I had a few concerns as to one or two people involved in the equality and diversity guidance  given out at these type of events set up by football’s authorities as the following happened.
We were asked to put hands on the shoulder of a person in front of us and work a little relaxation, then we were told to “clasp hands together bring them to our chins look up and give thanks and praise to god!!” Following this Jamie then spoke of “how difficult it was for young fit athletes to go for or ask for therapy with a psychologist, we had to imagine being one of these young men and how frightening it would be for them to go into a room with a stranger who would soon be asking them questions they would be fearing like, did you ever ride a pink bicycle when you were young?”
At which point everyone in the room started laughing!

There is much work still to be done and there is also much learning to be undertaken along the way by those in positions of authority before we can together effect any change, and sometimes people need to be seen to be doing and saying the right thing while we ARE in the room.


Lindsay England.




Disclaimer.
(The above account of the event taken from notes are my own from personal experience of being there and mine alone.)