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Homophobia in football debate gathers pace

18 July 2014

Michael Black

Louisa Jones tackles the issue

Homophobia is one of Football's hot topics at the moment, and senior lecturer Louisa Jones from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been in much demand as the game strives to tackle this taboo subject.

Louisa, from the School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors, recently spoke on BBC Radio Merseyside on behalf of the school's International Football Institute about homophobia in the sport, ahead of taking part in an event designed to explore the issue in greater depth.

Hosted by Everton FC in the Community, in partnership with the Unity Theatre and Homotopia in Liverpool, the theme of the event was brought to life through the staging of a fantastic play entitled 'Gaffer' by acclaimed writer Chris Chibnall.

The play was followed by a top-level panel debate, encouraging members of the audience to discuss the issues broached with leading players from the world of sport, equalities and academia.

Members of the panel and audience were subsequently invited to Goodison Park to join a round-table discussion with Stephen Williams MP. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was on Merseyside to discuss the challenges faced eradicating homophobia and other forms of discrimination from sport and the positive actions being taken by key organisations.

"Professional clubs should be encouraged to build a greater bond with LGBT supporters' groups and football clubs/leagues, by way of formerly affiliating with them, supporting and promoting their work through their various communications channels"

Louisa said the belief that homophobia is an accepted part of football culture, with the commonly held view in the game that it is not discrimination but merely 'banter', is a major problem.

She commented: "It can be hugely destructive when a person hears the same abuse over and over again, and it is for this reason why many gay football teams and leagues have formed away from mainstream provision, offering an environment that is much more accepting and welcoming."

Louisa also called for a coordinated approach across the game in the form of mass education and awareness raising for clubs, fans, coaches, teachers, young people and community groups.

"Professional clubs should be encouraged to build a greater bond with LGBT supporters' groups and football clubs/leagues, by way of formerly affiliating with them, supporting and promoting their work through their various communications channels and helping them have a say in guiding the clubs' equalities work."

Listen to Louisa's BBC Radio Merseyside interview here. (Please note: the link won’t work in Internet Explorer).