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Friday, March 11, 2011

offside magazine editor speaks about ANTON HYSEN

Friday, March 11, 2011
offside magazine editor speaks about ANTON HYSEN

Today Gaydio the lgbt radio station in Manchester interviewed the editor of Swedish magazine Tobias Regnell and asked him his thoughts on Anton Hysen's decision to 'come out' and what the reaction has been from the Scandinavian country. Here are some of the high lights of what was said taken from notes which i made while listening in.

"It's the belief that although there is homophobia within the football ranks of Sweden's fans who frequent the terraces the level is not the same as in England, said Regnell."

When Anton Hysen brother of Sweden International and ex Sunderland player Tobias publicly declared his sexuality this week "the news was a big deal in Sweden to a certain extent, but then when the news hit England, France and Brazil things escalated ten fold."

"In Sweden in the women's game there are several big stars who are out and proud, there are too also other sports stars who are open about their sexuality, but Hysen is the first male professional player to do so."

"He is not a great player, not as good as his dad (former Liverpool player Glenn), but he could reach the top level in a couple of years."

" With this news of the player being global, here in Sweden there is a debate around homosexuality in football and sport live on Swedish TV tonight, said Tobias."

"Anton plays for 4th division side Utsiktens BK and is 20 years old, he also played for the national representative U17's side."

" This issue is unheard of in football in Sweden,its a very conservative environment to be in."
"Anton has received good support from FIFPro (the world players union) and also from other players and managers themselves."

Along with this radio interview I myself have followed the news this week and collected a little research, and applaud Anton for taking this huge step, and a very brave one, here below are a few comments and notes from Sweden about the reaction to him being in the news.

The Swedish Football Association welcomed Hysén's stand, expressing a hope that more gay footballers would be encouraged to talk openly about their sexuality.
”I think this is very positive. It was about time – it is part of society and it must be normal and should be nothing out of the ordinary,” Susanne Erlandsson, vice chairperson of the Swedish Football Association.

Ulrika Westerlund at the Swedish Federation for Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (Riksförbundet för homosexuellas, bisexuellas och transpersoners rättigheter - RFSL) concurred that homophobia, like racism, remains a barrier within sport in Sweden and that Hysén's stand could only help to break these down.

"I would say that there are a great number of young boys out there who will see Anton as a role model today - he has shown that you can be gay and be a skilful footballer," she told The Local on Thursday.

Unfortunately not everyone's reaction to Hysen has been positive, on Wednesday, many insults and prejudice could be found on the web site of one of Sweden's main sites hosted by national TV channel TV4, and the site had to be shut down.

Anton's father said he thought that both Anton and his brother Tobias must brace themselves as sadly there will be reaction of homophobia from both the terraces and inside the dressing room from team mates.

LGBT organisations believe that not enough is being done to bring about change in this type of attitude within football and state quite clearly that they believe the responsibility for any change lies with managers and leaders of the game.

Below are a couple of links to short film of Anton for you to enjoy, that is if you are able to translate the Swedish!!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

homophobia......tackle count

Twelve months ago reports came to the fore of homophobic chants directed at Crusaders player Gareth Thomas at the start of his Rugby League career.comments such as 'Thomas you're gay' were herd as the teams warmed up, then during the game things escalated to 'Thomas takes it up the arse' sung by reportedly a few hundred Castleford fans in the ground that day.
Thomas himself herd what was sung and stated the following "The crowed at that end shouted obscene things,it hurt what they sung, and that they wouldn't confront me one on one, they did it in their 100's / 1000's."

Thankfully the RLF (who had been for a few years working towards a strategy for dealing with this hatred within RL) took action and investigated and handed out a heavy fine (reduced at a later date) to Castleford for misconduct of a section of their fans.In return the club to be fair also held their own search for the culprits and and picked out a few who were delt with accordingly.There was however a knock on effect from all of this (something that is also all too common on football and other sports) when the abuse was continued on fans forums and message boards, by many bigots from the comfort and safety of their computer keyboard, following a number of articles on the incident by various broadsheets.Sadly even one of the moderators of a forum posted how he "thought the chants were hilarious and joined in with them, problem? i wish some of the fools on here would get a funny side to them."......Charming.

So is homophobia in rugby league something new? No it's not.
 Now growing up on a farm in a small Yorkshire village and experiencing homophobia for the first time as an 11 year old when pretty much most of it just went well over my head you would have thought that it would also be lost to me four years later attending trials to play cricket for the Yorkshire Women's side, but i guess being a little more street wise helped me crack on to things even when it comes from 'gay women' themselves.I turned up to play to be greeted  with a room full of women (who at the time i believed to be related to each other in some way) with their crew cut hair, barrel like body appearance and mam and love tattooed across their knuckles,mostly in their late 30's and early 40's all wearing jean jackets.To them i was 'fresh meat' and it was a really uncomfortable atmosphere to be in, and although i played well as wicket keeper and bowled i decided not to return when asked too, maybe i gave up a great career in the summer sport but unease felt from the comments made by all the women gay and straight alike was simply too much to deal with.At that time i put most of, if not all of my fears down to growing up naive as part of a pretty dysfunctional family,mom being married for a 3rd time moving out with both my younger sister and half sister (both of whom had different fathers to me and each other and different surnames) step dad moving away too and me being left alone at 15 and having 3 jobs to put a roof over my head so i could finish school and give myself half chance of getting a job and a fair start in adult life.Looking back on things at a later date  its the homophobia that was biggest deal.For the next few years until my early 20's in fact, i played football for the works 5-a-side team, a bit of tennis and hockey in summer two sports i played much of in school, and continued  to turn out 3/4 times a week for the 2 local Badminton teams i was involved with playing in the Yorkshire league.Then i came across a local women's rugby league team, went to watch them play a couple of games but, even from the sidelines picked up much of the abuse and disgust thrown at some of the girls when they didn't have too good a game, which was well away from any type of banter you call between team mates and this echoed so much of the cricket situation again.A year later i saw an add for a team from Halifax looking for females to join the ranks, and as i knew some of the blokes who trained at the ground for the men's team i decided to venture again into the unknown, this time things were different, all the team were really friendly and keen to get women involved ready for the new season ( a first time in the official league for this team) and i never looked back after my inaugural training session with them, fitting well in the front row as an open side prop.

I quickly learned that the team was respectful and inclusive of all women as some who played and others who just turned up for a bit of fitness work also were part of the local hockey team, many of whom were lgbt men and women.So we had lesbians who played or trained and were accepted for being who they were, although nothing much was said specifically about the persons sexuality unless it was on topic in the changing rooms and bar as the latest gossip and tittle tattle of girlfriends falling out and a big gay drama.It was quite difficult for one or two of the girls also as we had a lot of husbands boyfriends and other family members watching our games, and they very much had to tone things down with an audience present as they weren't 'out' at home.As we worked our way through the season and got to know women from the other teams it was apparent that there were quite a few lesbians who were playing the game and for the late 80's some what pioneering things too.There was (unlike what i have seen at local women's football matches in the last couple of years) very little abuse from the sidelines and the family members or general public,even when we played on the big stage a number of times as curtain raisers to professional men's matches.There was however at times non acceptance for lesbians who played for the opposition, this was quite uncomfortable at times for women in our squad who were out or wanting to 'come out' as they felt that perhaps the hurtful things being said may also be directed at them when they weren't around.The men who coached us and often trained with us were fine, they seemed to be totally respectful of all of us, as women of whatever persuasion we were out there giving it some and playing the game as it should be just like the guys, one or two refused to join in with practise games as we were too rough!!

Over the years some of the friendly rivalry between our team and others in the newly formed and extended 2 tier league got out of hand.The homophobia gradually crept in as other teams got better players and bigger squads and could match our strengths and achievements of being in the first 3 Challenge Cup Finals ever held in the WRL, and winning the league title in our very first year, and several tournaments and 7's.This often spilled over at Country representative games and in the GB trials and squads when we were all supposed to be on the same side.Sadly i had to witness the worst of this homophobia from one of my own team mates, and captain, when, 2 girls from the opposition side after a match had nothing more than a snog and a close embrace across the far side of the car park, our captain, picked up  an air rifle and shot at them, claiming it was disgusting and should not be allowed to happen as there were children present, and they should have saved their intimacy for elsewhere, it was also suggested that they were lucky they did this after the game  rather than before, as they would have had to have taken a 'right kicking' for the unwanted show of affection in public.

Its hoped that the up coming Sheffield Eagles match in March 2011 as part of a sponsorship deal with Pride Sports and LGBT History Month, when the team will turn out in a special kit with 'Homophobia Tackle it' displayed on the front will highlight issues around LGBT participation in RL and raise awareness that any homophobic abuse is unacceptable and in many cases unlawful when aimed at LGBT's and indeed anyone perceived to be so, and help create a more respectful and safer environment to play, coach, administer, and watch the game in.