The first ever international fans conference on homophobia called on football bodies, government authorities and clubs to do more to tackle prejudice and exclusion in the sport across Europe.

Organisers hope that the Football Fans v Homophobia conference, which took place in Manchester on Saturday 17th August, will identify new ways of tackling homophobia in football, celebrate the involvement of gay and lesbian fans, and reinforce a zero tolerance message against discrimination.

Over 130 supporters from 29 European countries, including Russia, Germany, France, Norway, Poland and Portugal heard speakers including Patrick Gasser, head of social responsibility at European football governing body UEFA, Dirk Middeldorf of the Queer Football Fans network in Germany, and Paul Amann of Liverpool FC LGBT Supporters club.

Amongst the sessions that took place was the launch of a new mobile phone game from the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation as a tool to educate young people against homophobia in sport, and the experience of the transgender community in football.

Also under scrutiny was the hosting of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and the FIFA World Cup in 2018 across Russia. Both events pose challenges in light of new Russian laws prohibiting the ability of the LGBT community to take part in public life.

The conference was organised by the FARE network and the UK-based Football v Homophobia (FvH) campaign.

Lou Englefield from FvH said, “The LGBT community has a large contingent of football supporters whose concerns on homophobia are often ignored. As the first major gathering of supporters on this issue, both LGBT and allies, this was a huge event for the LGBT community in football.

Piara Powar, Executive Director of the Fare network, commented, “Europe is becoming both tolerant and intolerant at the same time, with the result that there remain endemic levels of homophobia. We will focus on campaigning solutions and to highlight successful initiatives to tackle exclusion in football.”

Published 15/08/2013