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On Friday 19 February, the day that The Justin Campaign starts the initiative Football v Homophobia, FIFPro wants to demonstrate that according to the World Players’ Union every footballer is equal. In the game of football there is place for neither discrimination nor homophobia.

 

The Justin Campaign seeks to challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions that exist around gay men in football. It works towards a future where the visibility of gay and bisexual men in professional football are both accepted and celebrated.

 

The Justin Campaign was founded to demonstrate that ten years after Justin Fashanu’s suicide in 1998, homophobia is still hugely prevalent in the world of professional football. He was the first football player in Great Britain to publicly demonstrate being gay. Unfortunately, the gay and black striker could not bare the prejudice and abuse he was subjected to. He committed suicide.

 

On behalf of FIFPro, board member Mads Øland sympathizes with the initiative of the Justin Campaign. ‘Even in 2010 there are still taboos in football and one of them is homosexuality. We strongly support the Justin Campaign as it aims to enlighten people about homosexuality and fight the prejudices.’

 

As president of Spillerforeningen, the Danish players’ union, Øland is known with the subject. ’For some time now, we have been encouraging the Danish FA as well as the clubs in Denmark to throw light on the matter. The Justin Campaign now gives them another chance to eradicate one of the last taboos in football.’

 

’Discriminating chanting and singing happens all accross Europe without anyone stepping in to stop it. We need a clear zero-tolerance towards this kind of behaviour and the ability to sanction clubs to get rid of it.’

 

’Football would grow and gain new players if the football environment was indeed open to gay players. At the same time, football has a social responsibility considering its size, and it should always set a good example for the fans.’

 

FIFPro’s honorary president and current PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor adds that in football everybody is united regardless of race, colour or creed. ‘The game is a beacon of diversity with players from many backgrounds, countries and continents demonstrating their skills. It is unacceptable for them to be subjected to abusive chanting, be it racist or homophobic, whilst they play. It is vital that we continue to work towards eradicating all forms of discrimination including homophobia. I applaud the on-going work in this area.’