Football Association chief promises to prioritise tackling homophobia

Football Association (FA) chairman Lord Triesman has promised to make tackling homophobia in the game a priority.

Speaking to gay activist Peter Tatchell, he said: “We remain committed to challenging all forms of discrimination in football and making the game open to all.

“We have been working closely with both Kick It Out and the Professional Footballers’ Association on producing a film that has a strong anti-homophobia message and look forward to premiering this in the New Year.

“The FA has good links with organisations like the Gay Football Supporters Network and we’re delighted that the recent Stonewall report supports our shared objective of football for all.”

The issue of homophobia in football was recently highlighted when PR guru Max Clifford told that footballers who come out of the closet may see their careers in tatters.

A week after his comments, Stonewall released a report criticising the FA for not doing enough to tackle the issue. It said the sport was “institutionally homophobic”.

Tatchell commented: “The FA should impose fines and match suspensions on players and managers who use anti-gay insults.

“We want clubs that fail to act against homophobic chants to face fines and, in extreme cases, match suspensions or point deductions.

“OutRage! [a gay rights group] will urge the FA to secure the agreement of all clubs to feature anti-homophobia messages in their match programmes, on tickets and on posters and billboards inside and outside football grounds.

“Prevention is better than cure. Education against homophobia can help overturn bigoted attitudes and make the game welcoming and secure for gay players and spectators. Only then will gay players feel safe to come out,” he added.

OutRage! will meet with the FA’s Tackling Homophobia Working Group when it reconvenes in the next few weeks.