What are the authorities doing to combat homophobia in football?

Although Patrice Évra claimed to have played with several homosexual footballers, there are still few coming outs in football, but homophobic acts persist. To fight against homophobia, initiatives are sometimes carried out by the governing bodies.

Patrice Évra recalled the sad facts about homosexuality in football: “In the world of football, it’s simple, everything is closed”. The former French international confided , in the columns of Parisian , having played with teammates who had opened up to him about their sexual orientation: “There are at least two players per club who are homosexual. But in the world of football, if you say so, it’s over”.

The news does not contradict this. Josh Cavallo, whose coming out in October made him the only top division footballer to be openly gay, still had to denouncing homophobic acts in the middle of a match in January : “There are no words to say how disappointed I was (…) We need to do more to hold these people accountable “. Before him, an anonymous Premier League player revealed a letter to describe the “absolute nightmare” of his situation. But for the time being, the action of the governing bodies of football and the public authorities seems very meager.

Flags, flocking and armbands for the symbol Last May, French football used 12e and 38e Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 days to raise awareness among spectators. A clip was broadcast on social networks to denounce the offensive and insulting remarks that can be heard during matches. In addition, the players wore rainbow-coloured jersey flocking -in the sky, symbol of the LGBTQ+ movement. , the captains of French professional clubs had been asked to wear an armband with the same motif. But several players had dodged this i initiative. The same year in England, again for one day, flags of the same multicolored pattern were placed on the corner posts.

In addition, the Football League professional (LFP) had announced the implementation of an educational tool (a “serious game” called A gay in my team? ) in club training centers.

Maracineanu was on the front line

At the start of the season 38-38, Roxana Maracineanu , Minister of Sports, stepped up to the plate to stem the songs and banners of a homophobic nature in the stands of the stadiums of football. Instructions were then passed to the referees to stop the matches if necessary. The LFP had also marked the coup by closing a stand at the AS Nancy-Lorraine stadium, where a meeting had been briefly interrupted. But a good number of supporters were turned on, to the point of playing one-upmanship. “They must understand that these songs accredit and legitimize gestures elsewhere in society”, had argued the member of the government, who had not been able to count on the unwavering support of Noël Le Graët.

At the height of the controversy, the president of the French Football Federation had asked the referees not to stop the matches , preferring to reserve this option for acts of racism or security issues. “Considering that football in France is homophobic is a bit strong coffee, I do not accept it,” he insisted. “He who openly minimizes racism, sexism and “LGBTIphobia” cannot claim to remain the boss of French football”, had replied later association leaders , before the re-election of the leader to the head of the FFF.

Some international sanctions

UEFA, which had adorned its logo in LGBTQ+ colors after refusing the city of Munich to illuminate the Allianz Arena in a rainbow during the Euro 2021, had sanctioned Hungary for discriminatory acts (homophobic and racist) by its supporters during the tournament. Three games behind closed doors had been decided, before the suspension was reduced on appeal to a single closed game plus another suspended sentence.

Last October, FIFA imposed behind closed doors for a match in Panama. In addition, the world body closely monitors Mexico, regularly pinned for many years for its supporters who shout a homophobic term at each clearance of the opposing goalkeeper. The next two matches of the Mexican selection will also be played without an audience. “It’s good that FIFA and the federation recognize that the cry is homophobic. But when they insist on sanctioning it, it provokes more anger against the LGBT community”, recently worried a local activist .

· For the World Cup 38, Qatar promises the toleranceWith the World Cup 2022 in Qatar (21 November-18 December), the selections will therefore play on a territory where homosexuality is criminalized. FIFA nevertheless wants to be reassuring. “People must be free to fly any type of flag they want, without being targeted or discriminated against, including the rainbow flag,” said Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

Nasser Al-Khater, Qatari president of the tournament’s organizing committee, recently assured that LGBTQ+ supporters would be safe in the emirate. In particular, he affirmed that homosexual couples will have the right to share the same hotel room, despite the legislation in force. “Everyone will be welcome here, everyone will feel safe. Everyone will benefit from the World Cup,” he pleaded. With an important nuance however: “Shows of affection in public are frowned upon, and that goes for everyone. (…) Qatar and the surrounding countries are much more modest and conservative. fans to respect. We’re sure they will. Just as we respect different cultures, we expect them to do the same with ours.”