Grass roots football is always championed as where education should start to combat issues that are affecting the game. Kicking out homophobic abuse is no different and it is happening all over the UK via the good work of the Gay Football Supporters Network.
The GFSN are a social, playing and campaigning network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans football fans and their friends. It encourages all types of people with all types of sexual identities and from all different backgrounds to play football together.
There is no doubt that homophobic abuse does exist in football, but the GFSN does disprove many myths that football is a sport where homosexuality simply wont work. The GFSN provides a safe environment for many people who thought that playing football was beyond them due to their sexuality.
I spent a very wet and windy evening in London with Phoenix FC to meet the players and take part in the training session. Phoenix FC welcome any participant who wants to play football. There I met gay, straight and transgender players playing together on a leisure centre pitch next to, what society would call, ‘normal’ teams.
I went to meet Chairman Ben Wicks, Founder Leviathen Hendricks and one of the straight team members there, Henning Glabbart. Over my investigation, so far, there have been questions raised about football’s ability to incorporate everyone.
This cold Wednesday night will do much to warm the heart of the harshest critic. Football is the winner with judgements and prejudices pushed to the side and eliminated. The work of the GFSN can only do more good work in the battle against homophobia.