Football vs. Homophobia: The Justin Campaign Takes Action

Football v. Homophobia

Earlier this week, we looked at the Football Association’s muddled efforts in assisting the campaign against homophobia in football, with a last-minute cancellation of a launch event for a new video. A video that was panned by John Amaechi:

The film that was created – starting in February 2009 – doesn’t have any players in it, lacks a cohesive narrative and certainly is one of the most offensive adverts I have seen in a long time.  Maybe I am not cool, or tuned into “the industry” but I was horrified when I first saw it and made sure that I was going to be as far away from London as possible next Thursday, when it was due to premiere to much fanfare and media acclaim.

To confuse matters further, even though the Football Association decided to abandon that high-profile premiere, they still released the video anyway. Or did they? Quite bizarrely, the link from the’s press release about the video that reads “Watch the video  (warning this video contains strong language and adult themes)” leads to a YouTube page that when you try to play the actual video, says “This video contains content from MyVideoRights (The FA), who has blocked it on copyright grounds.” So…who knows what the hell is going on with it. Does it work for anyone else? (EDIT: since publication, the FA has fixed the video)

Meanwhile, their press release proudly trumpets:

The FA’s long term equality strategy to battle homophobic abuse in football has received a series of high profile endorsements from the likes of Sir Elton John and Brighton & Hove Albion manager, Gus Poyet.

The call for work in this area was originally raised by supporters of Brighton who contacted The FA via the Football Supporters Federation in 2006 after reports of homophobic abuse from rival fans.

Support for the campaign has also come from Ireland’s first openly gay hurler, Donal Óg Cusack, who is a three-time title winner with Cork and Frances Barron, the CEO of the Rugby Football Union.

The FA has already confirmed that they plan to use the film as a training and education tool for matchday stewards in stadiums around the country.

FA chairman, Lord Triesman: “Both The FA and Kick It Out are committed to challenging all forms of discrimination in football and making the game family friendly and it’s our hope that everyone involved across all levels of the game will give the film’s anti homophobia message their full support.”

All well and good, though it doesn’t explain why they cancelled the premiere in the first place.

Perhaps of more importance is the work going on outside the FA by activists such as the Justin Campaign, named after Justin Fashanu, a footballer hounded for his sexuality before his suicide in the 1990s.

They sent out a press release today, announcing an “international day opposing homophobia in football” on February 19th.

Community football teams throughout the UK, Europe and America will be showing their support for the cause by holding a series of football matches and fun events throughout the day under the banner of Football v Homophobia. The Justin Campaign’s football team in association with Norwich LGBT Pride Collective will be kicking off the celebrations with a triage of fun community events throughout the day and a football tournament taking place at Carrow park in Norwich on February 19th where Fashanu began his career. Amal Fashanu, John Fashanu’s daughter will be there to open the event with David McNally Chief Executive of Norwich FC attending to show his support.

The launch of Football v Homophobia comes a week after the FA decided to cancel the launch of their anti-homophobia in football video.

John Amaechi, Former NBA basketball player said: “I have been pleased to watch the continued growth of the Justin Campaign, not only because it honours a fantastic football player whose time was cut tragically short, but also because much of the real work to end prejudice and homophobia in sports, must be done by those fans and participants who are actively involved. The hard task of equality is made easier by the involvement of grass-roots organisations like the Justin Campaign. As I examine the FA’s recent anti-homophobia advert debacle, I am saddened to note that their £10,000 budget would have been far better invested in the Justin Campaign.”

Good luck to the Justin Campaign with this. Perhaps the F.A. can take a cue from them.

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