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.