“This new initiative is commendable and welcome, but it’s full of vague, general pledges. There are not many specific, concrete proposals. It’s worthy but low-key. Sadly, it won’t make a major public impact,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
“To set the agenda and reach the fans, the Football Association should be pressing clubs to include anti-homophobia messages on tickets, in match programmes and on stadium screens at half-time. This would ensure the FA’s new initiative gets high-profile visibility and impacts public consciousness,” he said.
Mr Tatchell has campaigned against football homophobia for the last two decades and for several years he sat on the Football Association’s anti-homophobia working party.
He was commenting on yesterday’s Wembley Stadium launch by the Football Association of its new anti-homophobic strategy: Opening Doors and Joining In, which is promoting the inclusion in football of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The FA’s launch speakers included Sir Trevor Brooking, Director of Football Development, Darren Bailey, Director of Governance and Regulations, and Adrian Bevington, Managing Director of Club England.
Mr Tatchell expressed concern that the FA and individual clubs still have no plans in place to support a player who comes out as gay or bisexual:
“If a player comes out, they have every right to expect the full support of the FA Chairman and their club manager. This includes public affirmation of their decision and assistance to the player and their team mates in dealing with media inquiries and the reactions of fans from opposing teams. None of this vital preparation has been done,” added Mr Tatchell.
“Max Clifford is wrong to suggest that coming out would ruin a footballer’s career and lead to training session and dressing room tensions. Some gay and bisexual Premier League players are out privately to their managers and team mates. They are accepted and experience no difficulties. Coming out did not harm rugby player Gareth Thomas. It has won him public admiration and the support of his fellow players,” he said.
The Football Association’s commitment to LGBT inclusion: