Homophobia In Football
4th September 2009
Message from Ben Summerskill, chief executive
Stonewall exists to bring equality into every part our lives - at home, at work and at school. So we're pleased to have published groundbreaking new research in the last month on the prevalence of homophobia in football, such a central part of British culture and society. We are not pleased, however, about what we found.
'Leagues Behind' features a YouGov survey of over 2,000 football fans from across Britain and interviews with top football insiders and lesbian and gay players. The survey demonstrates that football is institutionally homophobic. Seven in ten fans have heard anti-gay abuse on the terraces in the last three years, much of it deeply offensive and vile. Three in five fans believe that anti-gay abuse from fans dissuades gay players from coming out; almost two thirds of fans believe football would be a better sport if anti-gay abuse was eradicated; and over half of fans think the FA, Premier League and Football League are not doing enough to tackle anti-gay abuse.
Too little action has been taken about an issue which deters not just gay players and fans from enjoying our national game, but also thousands of other fans too. Fans now expect visible action from the FA. Kick It Out, the FA's anti-abuse campaign, needs to be properly resourced to challenge anti-gay abuse, and this role should be more widely promoted. A high-profile, easy-access reporting mechanism needs to be promoted and the FA should annually collate and publish statistics on the extent of the problem at different teams. Football clubs who fail to tackle homophobia should face the threat of points being docked.
Football has a strong track record of tackling problems such as hooliganism and racism. But anti-gay abuse almost always goes unchallenged. When England is looking to host and win the 2018 World Cup, football cannot risk this loss of potential talent and supporters.