“The Football Association (FA) needs to give a much stronger lead in tackling homophobia,” said Peter Tatchell of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
He was a keynote speaker in London on Monday 21 March at the Leading the Way conference organised by the football anti-racism, equality and diversity campaign, Kick It Out.
Other keynote speakers included former professional footballer Paul Elliott and Simone Pound, Head of Equality at the Professional Footballers’ Association.
“The FA’s paper policies are now rather good but these formal policies need to be translated into stronger and more visible initiatives to make the beautiful game welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people,” Mr Tatchell told the conference.
“The FA should impose big fines and match suspensions on players, managers and other football staff who use anti-gay insults. Money talks. The threat of financial losses – and the denial of the right to play – would be a strong deterrent to homophobia.
“Severe punishment is justified in cases of serious homophobia but the real solution is public education to change hearts and minds.
“The FA should secure the agreement of all clubs to feature anti-homophobia
messages in their match programmes, on tickets and on billboards inside and outside football grounds.
“I have long urged the FA to make a MTV-style video against homophobia, with big-name stars like David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Wayne Rooney and others. I’d like to see the video have a strong, joyful music track by a leading contemporary singer like Tinie Tempah.
“The aim is to produce a feel-good, happy-vibe video and get it shown on MTV, YouTube, in schools, at junior football clubs and on giant screens at premier league games before matches and during half-time.
“Such a video would have a huge, positive public impact. It would be a world first. No other football governing body has produced such a video. It would bring the FA great prestige and acclaim, get global media coverage and thereby raise awareness and help tackle homophobia internationally,” said Mr Tatchell.