Anti-homophobia football drive launched

The Justin Campaign, the body that aims to rid football of homophobia, is launching a fresh anti-discrimination drive today (19 February) a week after it emerged that the Football Association had pulled the launch of an anti-homophobia video.

The campaign, named after the late Justin Fashanu, the only top-flight English footballer to have come out to date, has named today the inaugural international day against homophobia and will run advertisements in matchday programmes at a number of Premier League games this weekend.

The activity follows the FA’s decision to postpone the launch of its anti-homophobia DVD over fears that its message was too blunt and would not be well received by football fans.

That film featured a man directing anti-gay abuse at passers-by and aimed to point out that homophobia is as unacceptable at football grounds as it is in the office or on the street.

It is understood that a number of professional footballers refused to appear in the DVD because they feared that they would be ridiculed by fans and players alike. The film was reportedly going to feature a number of top-flight stars but the idea was dropped after a number of players and agents declined a request by the Professional Footballers’ Association to appear.

The decision attracted criticism from gay rights campaigners who demanded the FA do more to involve players in future campaigns.

Research by gay rights organisation Stonewall last year found that most fans had heard homophobic abuse at football matches.

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