Last night at the new HQ of Unison in Euston, l attended the launch of the Show Racism the Red Card(SRtRC) dvd against homophobia.
As ever, SRtRC demonstrated their credentials as an organisation comiiteed to promoting equality in all walks of life by venturing into this arena when they could have stuck with their normal ground in tackling racism in sport. It’s difficult enough to deal with racism in its many forms like the recent growth in islamophobia, let alone homophobia at the sametime. It was only after the careful cultivation of the Northern Rock Foundation, that they moved into this altogether different front. And we are all the better for it, judging by the contents of the dvd launched yesterday. It was immediately apparent to me that SRtRC’s experience with dealing with racism will be very useful in the battle against homophobia.
Yet showing homophobia the red card in football is clearly going to be more challenging then in cricket and rugby were we at least have players confident enough to “come out” like Gareth Thomas and Steven Davies respectively. You only have to look at the Justin Fashanu case to realise it’s a particularly charged issue in the dressing rooms of many football clubs with well groomed footballers being labelled as being gay on the terraces. Football needs a different approach as no doubt social class may well be playing apart here. It’s the only factor that may divide the game from rugby and cricket.
This said, learning to tolerate players regardless of their sexual orientation is not the only lesson football could learn from these other popular field sports in the UK in such a social campaign. For example, they could adopt TV replays when critical decisions have to be made on the field of play by referees – this is an aside I know, but one I couldn’t resist after last weekend’s football events.