Two groups supporting queer soccer fans in the U.K., Pride in Football and Pride of Irons, recently held Call It Out 19, the third annual event in which over 100 various stakeholders discussed the need for “decisive action on LGBTQ inclusion” within soccer culture. It was held last weekend at London Stadium.
The event’s headline panel discussion included stakeholders from other sports too, including “West Ham United’s Alisha Lehmann, retired boxer and Olympic medallist Anthony Ogogo, wrestler Brad Slayer, actor Charlie Condou and journalist Nicky Bandini,” according to whufc.com.
At the event, Di Cunningham, the outgoing Chair of Pride in Football, said:
“I’m a bit overwhelmed! One hundred people signed up for this; that’s LGBT fans, plus other stakeholders in football who are interested in LGBT inclusion.
“That is 100 people putting their heads together to solve some of the problems we still have. It isn’t all about celebrating how far we’ve come. We’ve still got to look at where we’ve got to go to. Events like today make me feel really, really good and hugely positive for the future.”
Their discussions are all the more important now considering FIFA’s recently re-emphasized rule allowing referees’ to end soccer matches if fans utter homophobic or racist chants.
Internationally, soccer has long struggled with eliminating hateful behavior amongst fans, but FIFA’s approach is just one of many ways to discourage queerphobia and make queer fans feel more welcome.
The Pride in Football website states:
It’s estimated that around 6% of the population are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans; in football terms that’s more than 2000 LGBT fans at an average Premier League game or 5000 at Wembley. And yet more needs to be done to curb the homophobic abuse regularly heard in English and Welsh Football stadia, or to make LGBT supporters feel welcome.
That welcomeness is needed for athletes as well. A 2015 survey of 9,500 athletes from six English-speaking countries found 84% had witnessed homophobia in a sporting match and 80% didn’t feel safe being openly gay as a competitor or spectator.