Downing Street hosts summit on homophobia and racism in football

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The Prime Minister hosted a summit yesterday aimed at tackling racism and homophobia in football in a week which has so far seen the FA fine Ravel Morrison £7,000 for a homophobic tweet and the former Chelsea coach José Mourinho severely criticised for using a gay slur.

Delegates from football authorities and campaign groups were invited to Number 10 along with former players.

Welcoming guests, David Cameron said: “There are things for the government to do in terms of the training that we fund. There are things for football clubs to do, for football organisations to do, and I think if everyone plays their role then we can easily crush and deal with this problem.”

Those present included Jason Roberts, John Barnes, Graeme Le Saux, Mark Bright, Garth Crooks and David Bernstein, chairman of the FA, which this week took swift disciplinary action against West Ham United player Ravel Morrison for his use of the word “faggot” on Twitter.

Bernstein said: “The Football Association continues to play a lead role in tackling discrimination in football. I firmly believe in widening participation and diversity within the game at all levels. The FA is determined to provide an inclusive football experience for anyone who wishes to play, coach, officiate or support English football. An experience that is reflective of our diverse communities, safe for all and free from abuse and discrimination.

“Just this week, a major conference was held at Wembley to raise awareness of the issues surrounding homophobia and transphobia. While we have come a very long way, it is clear we all have work to do.

He added: “The FA remains firmly committed to ensuring football is for everyone and that prejudice has no place.”

Chris Basiurski, Chair of the Gay Football Supporters’ Network, was present at the summit and recommended a series of initial actions to improve inclusiveness.

He suggested equal resources be directed to eradicating racism and homophobia, that the FA Council have an LGBT representative and that strong action be taken against homophobic chants on stadium terraces.

Basiurski also suggested a “strong representation” be made to FIFA about gay England fans, and players, who wish to attend the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a country where gay acts are currently illegal and punishable by imprisonment.

FIFA head Sepp Blatter apologised in 2010 after suggesting that gay fans should “refrain from any sexual activities” when they attended the championship in Qatar.

Basiruski said today: “We were delighted that the government took the initiative to bring together leading figures from the world of football to discuss the important and pressings the issues of racism and homophobia in football.

“We believe that this meeting was very productive and are looking forward to working with the Government, using the momentum of today’s discussions, to action real, tangible change in our national game.”