February is the international campaign month of ‘Football v Homophobia’ (FvH) and Leyton Orient is supporting the initiative.
FvH is a campaign uniting fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the Football Authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in football.
Year round, FvH enables people to take action against prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity in football, and to celebrate and welcome diversity in the game.
This culminates in an international show of support in February to raise awareness of the issue and to join together in making a visible stand against prejudice and for inclusion.
In the past few months polls have shown that whilst football fans would be more accepting than ever of a gay player in their team, as many as 72 per cent of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at football matches.
Using homophobic or transphobic language towards someone because you don’t like the way they play football, manage a team, make a refereeing decision or because of whom they support is wrong. It’s against the Laws of the Game and can be a criminal offense, but most importantly, it can make football an intimidating and unpleasant place for fellow fans, players, match officials and administrators of the game.
In recent years, professional footballers Robbie Rogers and Thomas Hitzlsperger, both of whom played in England, publicly announced that they were gay. Both of these players have talked about the challenges of being gay men within professional football, and the impact that anti-gay jokes, language and chanting can have on confidence and self-esteem. Welsh International Jess Fishlock has also spoken about anti-gay abuse she has suffered on social media and has said, “homophobia in all sports and all genders is a terrible thing. It really shouldn’t be a reason why someone doesn’t play a sport and it certainly shouldn’t be a reason why someone gets abused for playing a sport”.
Attitudes in football are changing, but we all need to make sure that the language we use and the way we behave reflects this change. At Leyton Orient we believe we can make a real difference to the culture of football, and we’d like your support. We know that change starts with education and the club recognises it has a role to play in leading the way on raising awareness of homophobia and LGBT discrimination within the club and its community.
Leyton Orient believes in a game where LGBT people can be seen and heard, and valued for their contribution to football. The club will work to create a safe and inclusive football environment for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We want our supporters to help us achieve this.
Today’s game against Carlisle United supports February’s Football v Homophobia campaign, and this afternoon is an opportunity for our supporters to also get behind the campaign and show everyone that Leyton Orient is no place for hate or bigotry.