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Gay and Gay Friendly Football Clubs: The Prejudices Team

September 2, 2011

In the first article in our series on gay and gay-friendly football clubs around the world we look at the Prejudices Team from the Netherlands.  We spoke with Marloes, who worked with the Prejudices Team as part of a graduation project and is also a member of Red Card Homophobia.

When was the team formed?
In the summer of 2009, when Ed Wallinga, alderman in the municipality of Enschede started
with this whole idea. He is gay himself and wanted to do something against intolerance and
discrimination. He thought that competing in football would be the best instrument to reach
those goals.

Can you explain the idea behind creating the Prejudices Team?
Certainly. The original idea was to have an entirely gay football team. That soon turned into a very diverse team with many different backgrounds, not only gay people but people with disabilities, immigrants, people suffering from manic depression, women, et cetera. Anyone who might have to deal with certain prejudices. The thought behind it was, when you let this “special” team play against a “normal” team, and let them discuss some things afterwards, you can make certain prejudices less of a taboo. The team wants nothing else. We are very realistic about not being able to get rid of prejudice in this world.

What has been the overall reception you have received since forming the team?
At first the media attention was huge. Not just locally, but nationally as well. Even Louis van
Gaal wished us good luck and called it a “good idea”. Though of course not all responses
were positive ones. An important sports journalist, Johan Derksen, who always has a strong
opinion about things, said it was “a ridiculous plan”.
Ed Wallinga’s conclusion was that at least it gives people something to think about. And
that’s exactly what we strive for.

Has the team gained any local attention?
So far we have played matches against a lot of local amateur clubs. We also participate in
other activities and try to get as much interesting local parties involved as possible. But I
must say we also try to look further than just the region Twente and that we approach national
organisations for partnerships as well.

How many members does the team have?
There isn’t an exact number, because it changes a lot. There is a base team consisting of about
14 players and around it are people who are occasionally called up to play along. We are
always looking for more members. Especially people who can actually play a decent game of
football. *laughs* That way we have a better chance at impressing the other team. *winks*

Where does the team practice and play games?
The team have done so in the past, but right now they don’t practice together. The games they
play are mostly played in the city Enschede and the surrounding area. We don’t have our own
field but come and visit amateur football clubs.

What plans do you have for the team in the future?
The Prejudice Team project leader, Nick Thies, made the decision to let the team be part of a
bigger whole. He expanded the Prejudice Team with other activities, such as a RespectCafé
and the RespectQuiz that accompanies it. The RespectCafé provides an amateur football club
with a very amusing evening + a serious undertone. As for the future, there are even plans of
handing out special prejudice awards next year. And of course getting even more interesting
parties involved.

If one of our readers was interested in joining the team how could they go about that?
They would have to live close to the region Twente in the Netherlands. If they contact me at I will gladly redirect them to the project leader. By the way, there are people in Amsterdam who are also interested in forming a similar team. So if anyone in another country is thinking “this sounds like something I want to do as well”, they should definitely also contact me.

And finally what has been your most memorable experience with the Prejudices Team?
When we played against a group of young men from an ethnic minority who had started their
own football team. Afterwards, when they were asked “So who do you think is the gay
person on this prejudice team? And who do you think is the psychiatric patient?” one of them
said: “But why do we need to know that? We played a nice game, isn’t that enough? Does it
really matter?” A valuable lesson.

For more information on the Prejudices Team you can visit their website: (website in Dutch).

Gay and Gay-Friendly Football Clubs

August 31, 2011

Red Card Homophobia are pleased to announce a new series of articles that will be debuting later this week which focus on gay and gay-friendly football clubs around the world.  The articles will be in the form of Q & A, and will look at all aspects of these clubs, including their history, memorable moments, and the affect they have had at the local and even national level combating homophobia in football and sport in general.  We have covered stories on gay football clubs before, such as Stonewall FC founder Aslie Pitter being honoured as a Member of the British Empire and matches and events part of Football v Homophobia, and received favorable input from supporters so we hope this new series will be popular as well.

If you are a part of, or know of any club, that would be interested in being interviewed for this series please send us an email.

Justin Fashanu to be Honoured in New Biography

August 30, 2011

Next year will see the release of a biography of former Norwich City player Justin Fashanu, whose career as the only openly gay footballer of his time is the inspiration for movements like Red Card Homophobia and the Justin Campaign, named in his honour.

Canadian writer and former broadcast journalist Nick Baker is behind the biography, and hopes to bring the story of Fashanu’s life to a new generation of football fans, particularly to highlight his bravery in the face of an overwhelmingly homophobic football culture. “The reason I am writing the book is because I believe it is long overdue,” Baker says. “Justin was not only Britain’s first million pound black footballer but also the first professional football player in the world to disclose he was gay. The decision to tell the world was incredibly brave, especially in an era that was predominantly homophobic.”

After making the courageous and unprecedented decision to come out in 1990, Justin Fashanu faced constant discrimination from both football crowds and the people who were to shape his career – teammates and managers alike. His brother, John, publicly criticised Justin’s sexuality, and he was unable to secure a full-time contract with a football club after his decision, despite his fitness and form. Justin committed suicide in 1998 following allegations of sexual assault.

Though Justin’s life and career ended tragically and prematurely, he left behind a legacy that continues to inspire those who believe in equal rights and challenge the homophobia that dominates football. As Baker says, “Today, more than 15 years later other professional sports people are finally following his lead, like the rugby player Gareth Thomas and cricketer Steven Davies, but it was Justin who took the initial stand. That should never be forgotten.” Gareth Thomas has agreed to write the foreword for the biography.

Baker remains in the research stages of his book. He says, “I would really love to interview anyone who knew Justin in Norwich back then – old friends, teammates, coaching staff, acquaintances outside the club – anyone who knew him in some way.” He encourages anyone who can contribute to the making of this important book to email him at

– I.G.

Source: Norwich Evening News 24

Cameron Condemns Homophobia in Sport

August 8, 2011

David Cameron’s supporters have hailed him as a young politician, one who is in touch with the times and understands the needs of Britain today. Just before coming under intense political pressure due to his links to the Murdoch media empire, British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote an article for in which he condemned homophobia in sport 1.

Cameron’s message that homophobia is unacceptable is a laudable one. Whether Cameron’s interest in and support of football is genuine has been called into question 2; this doesn’t change the fact that he realises that the current homophobic messages that can be heard in many football stadiums is outdated and stifling soccer as a sport. This article is also a positive turnaround from Cameron’s shambolic Gay Times interview3. Despite this shaky start Cameron has hosted a number of receptions focused on gay rights including an event which focused on homophobia in sport. With the Olympics soon to be hosted in London, sport will take over England’s capital city providing a platform to highlight homophobia in sport.

However, Cameron must now continue to advance the anti-homophobia message in football rather than use these issues to superficially retain votes while doing nothing of note to help those suffering from discrimination. Perhaps if Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband devoted a small amount of time to decrying homophobia in any of the many varying mainstream public forums available to them then perhaps homophobia would become a higher priority in Westminster and penetrate the consciousness of Britain as a whole.

Sources: [1 Pink News ] [2 Political Scrapbook ] [ 3 Gay Times Interview – Video]

Homosexuality and Women’s Football

July 25, 2011

With the Women’s World Cup just ending, the high-profile event has brought attention to issues for gay female players.  In contrast to the news coverage of the Nigerian women’s national team, who claimed to have ‘cleansed’ their team of lesbian players, the current FIFA #2 ranked-team, Germany has taken a more accepting view of homosexuals in football as a national team and as a host country.

Previously, we had reported about some male German national team players that have spoken out in support of gay players [Gomez and Lahm].  The German women’s national team has had several lesbian or bisexual players in their ranks come out in recent years, which the German Football Association (DFB) hopes can pave the way for gay players in the men’s game.  “The women are kind of an icebreaker in this sense, and we have always supported them,” said Theo Zwanziger, DFB president, “But ultimately it is up to every individual to decide whether to keep things private or open up to the public. “ That sentiment is echoed by the current women’s team manager Doris Fitschen, “No one is forbidden from coming out, and I’m convinced that such a player would face no disadvantage.”
Prominent players like goalkeeper(s) Nadine Angerer and Ursula Holl have come out publicly, with Holl even marrying her partner recently.  But former player and current activist Tanja Walther-Ahrens notes that some still see homosexuality “as a sickness” and that the taboo of homosexuality does have an effect on the game.  She believes that “more girls and women would play if this lesbian cliché did not exist.”  But given the strides taken by her own country and football team, she still holds some optimism, noting, “Football is a reflection of society, and if we can change something here, maybe we can change society, too.”
Source: [The Local]

FIFA Must Commit to Anti-Homophobia Campaign

July 19, 2011

In our campaign for the eradication of homophobia in football, one of the issues that we at Red Card Homophobia have repeatedly highlighted is the need for top-down reform from the game’s most powerful bodies. Being a grass-roots organisation, we understand the importance of reaching out to football supporters one by one, to change attitudes and foster a more accepting environment in which gay football players can be as open and proud as their straight counterparts.

But authorities such as FIFA, UEFA and national football associations must explicitly renounce homophobia if these bottom-up initiatives are to have their desired effect. The ultimate goal is to put every player, staff member and supporter on a level playing field, regardless of sexual orientation. As long as homophobic attitudes are tolerated by these authorities, we will not have achieved real change.

The reason why this is such an imperative is that recent pushes to achieve FIFA support for the anti-homophobia crusade have been met with disappointing levels of apathy and a distinct lack of commitment. In December last year, Qatar was handed hosting duties for the 2022 World Cup amid widespread concerns regarding how its traditionally homophobic laws would affect players and supporters from the LGBTQ community. In response to questions as to how FIFA, with its famous anti-discrimination campaign, would handle these concerns, President Sepp Blatter callously joked that “they should refrain from any sexual activities”. For an organisation that prides itself on its policies of inclusion and acceptance, Blatter’s comments and FIFA’s reluctance to address the issue represents several steps backward in an era that is supposed to represent progressivism.

Also last year, president of Croatian football Vladimir Markovic forbade the presence of gay footballers in Croatian football, arguing that “only healthy people” were welcome. FIFA did not condemn the statement outright, and thus prompted a vast outcry from supporters of the LGBTQ community demanding that FIFA cease to implicitly support such homophobic attitudes.

More recently, FIFA dismissed a comment by Nigerian women’s football coach, Eucharia Uche, claiming that homosexuality was “spiritually, morally very wrong” and that “divine intervention” had saved her team from housing any lesbian players. Despite public outrage at the fact that a football institution itself has been propounding anti-gay messages, FIFA declined to comment on them, let alone condemn them. As Joanie Evans, co-president of the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association says, “Women in sport are seen as a poor relation as it is. To discriminate against women again because of their sexuality is really damaging.”

It appeared that, with the Women’s World Cup this year, FIFA was set to take a step in the right direction. Robert Kastl, organiser of Berlin’s annual Gay Pride Parade, had secured use of the square in front of the Brandenburg Gate for June 25, the night before the World Cup was to commence. FIFA, seeking to use the square for its World Cup opening event, agreed with Kastl’s condition that it would issue an official public statement denouncing homophobia and place homophobia alongside racism and hooliganism on the list of FIFA’s highest anti-discrimination concerns. However, FIFA ultimately decided against using the venue and thus failed to follow through on its anti-homophobia promises.

Had FIFA taken this first crucial step against homophobia, as it came so close to doing, it would have sent a strong message to member football associations such as those of Nigeria and Croatia that football is no longer stuck in a bigoted past and no longer tolerates discrimination on the basis of sexuality. FIFA’s talk on anti-discrimination would have been strengthened by the fact that it no longer turned a blind eye to homophobia, one of the most pervasive and entrenched forms of discrimination. However, FIFA remains firmly rooted in a comfortable, cowardly position of apathy, and continues to promote the assumption that football is a ‘straight’ sport through its consistent failures to speak out.

At Red Card Homophobia, we reissue our urgent call for FIFA to stop ignoring the growing demands from individuals and groups around the world for action against homophobia. As we grow more and more diverse and accepting, so too must football and the people who represent it. Here’s hoping that the next time FIFA is handed an opportunity to denounce homophobia like the one provided by Robert Kastl, it chooses to seize it and bring football into a new age.

– I.G.

Sources: [The Daily Beast] [The New York Times]

Nigeria Coach Imposes “No Lesbian” Policy in Women’s Football Team

July 17, 2011

Eucharia Uche believes some of her players are gay and says it is morally wrong. Photo credit: NYT

With the ongoing Women’s World Cup (WWC), top female football teams have captured the attention of sports fans around the globe with their exciting matches and skills. Even though they have bowed out of WWC, Nigeria’s national female football team continues to gain more buzz. Unfortunately, it is neither because of the players’ talents nor their achievements.

Eucharia Uche, who is head coach of Nigeria’s female football NT, has imposed a strict no lesbian policy in the team, sparking debate in various websites and communities. To aid her in deciding whether a member of her team is straight or gay, Uche claimed to rely on rumors and speculation.

In a phone interview with The New York Times, 38-year-old Uche said, “I came to realize [lesbianism] is not a physical battle; we need divine intervention in order to control and curb it.” This divine intervention plan from Uche includes regularly inviting Pentecostal ministers to pray with and counsel her players, Bible readings and prayer sessions.

Aside from Uche, FIFA also received the angry backlash of football fans and LGBT communities for being lenient about homophobia issues such as this. FIFA has responded that no action can be made about Nigeria’s case since no official complaints have been submitted.

An LGBT movement, All Out, has organized an online petition to call out Uche’s homophobic behavior and to encourage FIFA to be proactive about the issue. As of July 7, All Out has reported 45,000 signatures and counting.

[The New York Times]

Demand that FIFA take a stand against homophobia. Click HERE to sign All Out’s online petition.

– N.E.

Updates and News

July 15, 2011

Another Ajax player has agreed to allow us to share their photo as part of our campaign to end homophobia in football. Thank you Vurnon Anita!

As some of you may remember we did an article last month covering the Dutch magazine L’HOMO which featured many athletes in a discussion on homosexuality in sports.  That article can be found here. We now have a full translation of the interviews that current and ex- football players did for the magazine via one of our Dutch supporters.

  • Demy de Zeeuw (football player for AFC Ajax/ Netherlands NT): With every away game we have to hear ‘Jews are gay’ (Jews is a nickname for Ajax supporters). It’s to show their dislike for Ajax, and in football you do that by cursing with either cancer or gay. Ridiculous, of course, but I’m afraid it’s a hard thing to change. There are enough gays that don’t want to hold hands in public, because they’re afraid of aggression. As long as homosexuality is not completely accepted in society, it won’t happen in football either. I don’t know of any gay football players, but no doubt they’ll be out there. It must be hard to live a double life, but always being picked on in stadiums is hard as well. In showbiz there are a lot of succesful gays that aren’t queery. They aren’t all parading in their speedos through the canals of Amsterdam. When I’m walking on the street with my girlfriend, a lot of men check me out. I don’t know what to think of that, maybe it’s my fashion or the fact that I’m bald. In my close surroundings there are gay people. Fine. In Amsterdam it’s completely normal in shops or restaurants to be served by a gay. I don’t get that people would have a problem with that.
  • Kenneth Perez (ex- football player, now analyst): I wouldn’t have any problems with playing alongside a gay player. I think we should stop making such a big deal out of that. In women’s football homosexuality is normal and accepted. Professional football is a macho culture, but I think most players won’t care about it. I expect the weird reactions would come from the supporters. It happened when an ADO the Hague player was butt plugged by his gf, and that didn’t even involve homosexual actions. Shortly after the video leaked on the internet we played against them and it was raining dildos on the field. I’m sure it was meant to be funny, but I wouldn’t be comfortable if it was about me. Sometimes gay men tell me ‘It’s a shame you’re not into men’. It happens a lot that gay men are into straight guys. They want to experiment. I don’t have that urge. My hairdresser in Denmark has become a good friend, he’s gay and has introduced me to a whole new scene. All his friends are nice, well dressed and fun. I have two sons, if one of them would come home with a guy I would have no problem with that.
  • Ronald de Boer (ex- football player, 67 caps for Netherlands NT): I used to play in Scotland, for the Rangers. One day before an important clash against Celtic, my manager came up to me to have a private talk. A gossip paper would have a story on me. I got anxious: what did they know? Coach: ‘You’ve been spotted with a man, they’re gonna out you’. I was relieved. ‘Let them publish that’, I said, ‘No problem’. I myself am not gay curious, but I completely accept homosexuality. I have a lot of gay friends. I’ve become more comfortable with hugging men, in southern Europe that’s completely normal. I didn’t used to kiss my brother or my father, but now I do. I kind of like it. When I was playing in the Netherlands, there were two gay referees. No one treated them funny, they were respected, because they were good at their jobs. It’s weird how that is accepted, while homosexuality among players is still such a taboo. The most well known case of a player that’s supposed to be gay is Marc Overmars. I know him very well and I know he’s not. It’s annoying when people keep going on about it. I personally think you should just come out, but I also understand people who’d want to keep it quiet.
  • Evgeniy Levchenko (football player for Willem II): I’ve grown up in Ukraine; a macho culture where homosexuality was a big taboo. When you were into guys, you were supposed to deny it. Russian parents would rather disown their child when he was gay than when he was a murderer. I don’t get that in a free country such as the Netherlands, where I’ve been living since I was 17, homosexuality still isn’t fully accepted. No one has ever called me gay, maybe because I am more macho than I look. I have a lot of gay friends. I don’t think any player would mind playing alongside a gay player, if you’d ask them personally. But if you bring it up in a group, there will be nasty remarks. That’s group pressure. It makes me angry when I hear Italian trainers say that there are no gay men in football, that’s just not true. I know players that I suspect are into men. I guess they’re afraid of the reactions from the audience, but you’ll get used to the chants. So they’ll sing that you’re gay.. You are. It’s not that bad, right? At the same time, I understand the fear. The British player Fashanu has been the only player to come out. It eventually cost him his life; all the negative reactions were too much for him and he’s committed suicide.
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Weekly Question Responses: Week 1

July 12, 2011

On our various social networking sites we began last week asking a ‘weekly question’ to our supporters about their experiences with homophobia in football, and their opinions on what should/could be done to combat it.

Last weeks question was:

Have you ever heard homophobic chants or comments at a match? If so, what was the reaction and response of those around you. Would you / Did you feel comfortable confronting the person about what was said?

These are the responses we received:

Kyle Johnson via Facebook: Well, there aren’t any out gay footballers, so I wouldn’t think there would be much opportunity for homophobic chants in the stands.

afrostedlemon via Livejournal: I haven’t heard homophobic chants at matches yet, but I only ever went to the matches of a small local club (visitor count ~15 people…). I’m going to a bigger match at the end of the month and therefor I felt like I should think about this question anyway.
I’ve experienced drunk fan bulks at train stations and in trains a few times by now. Although I’m someone who has a big mouth, stands up for other people and talks back a lot, I am not sure if I would dare to do that towards drunk, idiotic homophobes at a football match. They’re unpredictable and once they’re all riled up it can get ugly. A lot of them are more than willing t resort to violence. I’ve seen people getting beat up for less.
The chant-situation kind of suggests that more than one person would be parttaking in this and I’m not sure if I could handle a bunch of (possibly drunk and aggressive) homophobes myself.
It depends on how safe I would feel in that situation and if there were other people to support/help me. It does sound coward, I know, but after all, it’s one own health that’s at stake. (It would be a different situation, though, if someone would be directly targetted by homophobes physically or verbally).

Either way, I think that there should be meassures against homophobia at matches. I think we all agree that ‘just’ because one’s health/wellbeing is threatened, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any actions that can be taken to stop it. I’m not sure if it’s possible to ban people for homophobic remarks or the like, or if this would even be a realistic meassure, but something has to be done.

We would love to hear more opinions on this matter, or your responses to the answers we received.

The question for next week is:

Do you think football associations do enough to tackle homophobia? If not, explain what you think they should do differently.

Send us your responses as comments, emails, or via the various networking sites. We look forward to receiving your answers.

The answers to these questions do not necessarily reflect the views/opinions of RCH.

Women’s Football Deserves Better

July 8, 2011

With the Women’s World Cup underway, now is a good time to remind FIFA what it should be doing.

Sports fans are an indulgent lot with our obsessive statistics, our gang colors, and our willingness to entertain a well-told fable, like the one about Paul the octopus who could flawlessly forecast game outcomes. With the recent kick-off of the Women’s World Cup, I have another, less fantastic story to tell, and it’s one that just might help you with your match predictions.

The equation of women’s athletics with latent lesbianism is nothing new, and soccer is ground zero for salacious locker room tales. There’s an old joke that asks how to avoid sleeping with everyone on your soccer team. The answer: Join a men’s league.

The truth is that there are lesbian soccer players at every level of the sport. For those of us playing in our queer city leagues it’s a non-issue, and to witness the numerous athletes in various sports who have come out as gay in the past several months it would seem to be a non-issue at almost any level. But this is professional soccer.

For the rest of the sports world, late 2010 and early 2011 was all about supporting an anti-homophobia agenda. High-profile basketball, cricket, and tennis players came out, and straight “allies” including Hudson Taylor (wrestling) and Ben Cohen (rugby) embarked on very public campaigns to speak out against anti-gay bullying. The San Francisco Giants agreed to make an “It Gets Better” video to support LGBT youth, with other franchises following suit.

But not everything’s coming up rainbows in soccer. Homophobia underlies the fan culture, and organizing bodies like FIFA and the UEFA have been discouragingly ineffective in handling the issue. Though both associations have anti-discrimination policies (and in the case of the UEFA, a partnership with anti-homophobia organization The Justin Campaign which is named after the late footballer Justin Fashanu who hung himself eight years after he came out in the press), neither has made substantive policy changes. In fact, in early 2011 both organizations reconfirmed Vlatko Markovic for a fourth term as president of the Croatian Football Federation despite the fact that he told the press in late 2010 that “[a]s long as I’m president [of the Croatian Football Federation] there will be no gay players. Thank goodness only healthy people play football.” To date, aside from Fashanu, only one high-profile football player has come out of the closet: Swedish defender Anton Hysén.

It is crucial to note the underlying sexism in the previous sentence. When anti-homophobia advocates make this statement, we are really talking about male athletes. “High-profile” is euphemistic, and it’s this systemic disparity that contributes both to the lack of support for women’s athletics, and to homophobia in the game.

Let me get on the record with this: There are out LGBT professional soccer players. For starters, meet Ursula Holl and Nadine Angerer from Germany’s national team which beat Canada 2-1 in the official opening match of the 2011 Women’s World Cup. The other Cup game that day went to France, who beat Nigeria 1-0, which brings me back to the story I was telling.

This year’s Women’s World Cup has been gripped by a kind of lesbian panic, the result of which has been both ridiculous (the United State’s sexy-nurse uniform) and chilling (Nigeria’s lesbian “witch-hunt”).

Nigeria’s coach Eucharia Uche recently boasted that she had cleansed the Super Falcons, Nigeria’s national women’s team, of lesbianism with the help of priests, and by expelling some players. The players were removed “not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians,” said James Peters, former technical assistant for the Nigerian Football Federation. The story’s been widely reported in the mainstream press recently, but it’s actually old news. The blog New African Press ran an article on it back in March.

At right around the same time, German Football Association president Theo Zwaniger told the Congress of the European Football Association (UEFA) that he “… would find it brave and welcome, if a football player would come out. He (sic) [would have] the support of the DFB and from me.”

I believe that this – respect conferred or withheld – is the tournament’s Paul the octopus, and that the consequences will play out on the scoreboard. The teams that compete with the support and respect of their management, their governing associations, and their fans will certainly enjoy more focus and energy than those laboring under discriminatory scrutiny and fear. It’s not a perfect system, but surely it’s as reliable as a hungry octopus?

Homophobia and sexism are entwined. The women’s game deserves better than it gets, and that begins with recognizing the skill and dedication of the athletes – and refusing to be sidelined by nonsensical diversions. A player’s sexuality and her “attractiveness” are not important; whether or not she can help her team put the ball in the net is. As fans, we can honour our teams by demanding equality at the every level of the game, from the stands to the executives.

Regarding the blatant discrimination on the part of the Nigerian Football Federation, FIFA has been characteristically lazy in its response. LGBT equality advocacy group AllOut has started an online petition to pressure the organization to condemn Uche’s actions. Support women’s soccer, and sign it.

Keph is a Canadian writer whose passion for travel and soccer have led her to play the beautiful game on four continents.  You can read more from Keph at her blog and follow her on Twitter @kephsenett

Originally posted at In Bed With Maradona