Month: November 2015

“We’re top of the League and you’re no!”

Leicester City climbed to the top of the Premier League today with a 3 – 0 win over Newcastle United. The Foxes have successfully bagged 28 points in 13 games, sitting 2 points above last season’s league winners Manchester City. Surprisingly, this time last season Leicester were sitting bottom of the table, facing imminent relegation. Leicester City have scored in 14 consecutive league games, and on form striker Jamie Vardy has scored 10 goals in 10 games equalling Dutch star Ruud van Nistelrooy’s tally of successive goals, with the former Red Devil also scoring his 10th against Newcastle United at St James Park in 2003.

The Foxes came close to winning the biggest prize in English Association Football in 1929, only to finish the season as league runners up to eventual winners Sheffield Wednesday. But with a phenominal start to the season and no sign of Claudio Ranieri’s team dropping the ball anytime soon the anticipation and excitment is growing South of the border. Could this be Leicester City’s year, and will Jamie Vardy’s run of form ever end?

FOXES NEVER QUIT

PS. Good luck Manchester United, and Louis van Gaal.

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Homophobia in Football: What’s the problem?

(I would like to highlight that the following information is drawn from a football perspective within England)

 

“If a player did come out, I think everyone would be supportive, but I’m 100% sure that people in the changing room would be joking, and that some would be ripping it out of him.  If there’s a gay player in our changing room, I’d understand why he wouldn’t come out.”

(Anonymous, professional League One player)

 

BBC Sport reported yesterday that Premier League executive Richard Scudamore supports the idea that openly gay footballers would be treated with respect in the Premier League.

 

This was a bold assumption from Scudamore, who has held his position as Chief Executive at the top flight of English Association Football for 16 years. Scudamore believed openly gay footballers would be treated with “tolerance” and “that the time would be right” to come out.

 

The Chief Executive however appeared ill informed on the subject. When discussing the gay footballer “coming out”, Scudamore questioned whether this language was appropriate and consistently referred to openly gay players as “them” and “they”.

 

There is only one openly gay player in English football. His name is Liam Davis, and he plays for Gainsborough Trinity. In an interview with BBC Sport in January 2014 Davis spoke about a fairly positive response from his team mates, opposition and fans. Davis stated that on the one occasion that he did encounter abuse from an opposition player, the player apologised for his behaviour after the match via a text message. During an interview with the Lincolnshire Echo Davis expressed his wishes that professional footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger would have “came out” before retiring in 2013. Davis did however admit, that the closer you get to the top flight then the harder it will be for players to be open about homosexuality due to greater media coverage and increased fan exposure. Davis seemed to be in the perfect community club environment to “come out”, and has received massive support from family, friends, team mates and the football club itself. However, the same cannot be said for others. And the fact of the matter is, out of the 2 million adults who participate in football every week in England only one is openly gay despite 1.5% of the English population being homosexual or bisexual. This does not support Scudmore’s statement, and it is plainly obvious that the environment in England is not entirely suitable for homosexual footballers.

 

Thomas Hitzlsperger, the former Aston Villa and German national player, also received positive responses upon coming out to the public.  This is a great thing, however Hitzlsperger never experience a match day response inside a Premier League stadium. So there is no telling how a crowd would respond. I would like to think the reaction would be positive, but past experience tells us otherwise. Justin Fashanu, England U21 International, came out as homosexual in 1990 – he was the first footballer to do so in the United Kingdom. He committed suicide at the age of 37, tragically, as a response to his sexuality.

 

Fundamentally, the difficulty with this subject is that gay footballers are the invisible minority. Popular football magazine FourFourTwo reported a survey of professional footballers who responded to the question, “Do you know any gay players?” 11% of the 123 players asked responded “Yes”.  (Please note that some Scottish Premier League players responded to this survey)

 

“A player confided in me and came out. I’ve kept my mouth shut. It’s none of my business. It’s no one’s business.”

 

This one response from a professional League Two player highlights the eagerness to protect gay footballers. This may seem like an act of kindness, but personally I believe this suggests a lack of tolerance in the English game.

 

The Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) was formed in 1989, “as a social network for LGB&T football fans across the UK.” The organisation uses football as a tool to tackle “homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia” on and off the football field. It has helped to establish LGBT supporters clubs, assisting the development of an inclusive and equal football fan experience. London based clubs, Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspurs, are two such clubs with LGBT supporters groups. The Gay Gooners and The Proud Lilywhites are the clubs official LGBT fan communities. These fierce rivals share solidarity and a common goal to create a safe and inclusive fan environment. BBC Newsbeat investigated LGBT supporters clubs in the Premier League in August this year. Excluding Arsenal FC, who formed the first Premier League LGBT group in 2013, BBC Newsbeat asked the remaining 19 clubs “if they had an official one connected with the club”. From the 11 respondents, 4 chose not to answer the question, 5 said that yes they did have LGBT fan groups and the remaining two stated that they didn’t have one at the current time.

 

Proud Lily Whites.jpg

 

GFSN have stressed that Premier League clubs are not doing enough to support their fans. Ed Connell, GSFN Chairman, is shocked at the number of Premier League clubs and officials (such as Richard Scudamore) who believe that homophobia in football is not a problem. Out of the Fields conducted the first International Study on homophobia in sport. The results were posted in May this year and despite the majority opinion, out of more than 9,000 people in the United Kingdom 77% claimed they had “witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport”.

 

Back to Richard Scudamore, the man who places blind faith on football and football fans to “tolerate” homosexuality. The statistics show little proof that coming out will be welcomed in English football. I hope I am proven incorrect, but I simply cannot support Scudamore’s thoughts. It is clear that we have a number of gay footballers who do not want to come out, for whatever reason. Clearly they are known to other professionals who they work with on a daily basis but they will not expose themselves to fans or the media. This highlights a significant problem with homosexual inclusion in English sport, particularly football. This problem isn’t exclusive to the football players alone, and football fans are seeking new ways to enjoy the sport that they love. Homosexual, bisexual and transgender fans are forming LGBT supporters groups in order to feel safe in Premier league grounds, and yet clubs, officials and executives are still denying that there is a problem. Without a shadow of a doubt Scudamore’s comments are ill informed and misjudged. I cannot say that I am a member of an LGBT group, but if I was I would not be very happy with my league executive for completely downplaying a very serious problem within football.

 

 

 

Reference

 

http://www.lincolnshireecho.co.uk/Gainsborough-Trinity-s-Liam-Davis-openly-gay/story-20431222-detail/story.html

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/reality-check/2013/oct/03/gay-britain-what-do-statistics-say

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/87288.stm

 

http://www.gfsn.org.uk/news/beta-gay-players-11-of-players-know-one.html

 

http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/news/formation-of-lgbandampt-fan-group-060214/

 

http://www.arsenal.com/fanzone/gay-gooners

 

https://proudlilywhites.wordpress.com/

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/33760649/footballs-lgbt-fans-want-more-help-from-clubs

 

http://outonthefields.com/

 

 

Half and half shirts: what’s the problem?

_86486330_halfhalf1A wind – up? An expression of dual identity? Or an expression of the impact of the global football market?
Many ridicule such an image, of a ‘football fan’ sporting a shirt with two club emblems on the chest, however you may be more alike than first thought.
How many people can truly say now that they support their local team? How many people even support their regional, or indeed their national team?
There is an ever increasing number of football fans supporting teams who occupy Europe, predominantely teams from Europes BIG FIVE, notably in Germany, Spain, Italy, France and England.
Mass media has allowed us to be consumed by football events, heroes and villians. Everyday we are emerged in a spectacle of footballing prowess, and those teams with the greatest amount of money and the greatest amount of power possess the loudest voice in our social world. It is therefore probable to assume that football is no longer as community based and tribal as it once was. Globalisation and immigration has been a huge factor in this also.
Is this a good thing?
Many people agree, and feel positively about getting away from footballs ‘tribal’ elements. Possibly believing it will alleviate violence, and ethinic difference.
Is it a bad thing?
Well it is changing the culture of the game. Fans are now involving themselves in the business of football like never before, and are being commodified by the vast media market. This goes against the age old tradition of being ‘born’ a fan which is charaterised by common footballing tales such as ‘cut me and i’ll bleed (insert team colours)’, ‘my Dad was a (insert team name) fan, so I am’ or ‘I was born here, so I support (insert team name)’.
Traditional fans don’t like this commodification of football fans, and more importantly they don’t like that “fans” are buying into it. Many struggle with the concept of having a ‘second team’. To many it’s unthinkable, but in the modern world it’s ordinary.
IMO.
I would love to live in a world without sky sports. I would love to have seen an international match with a minimum of 100,000 people standing under one roof watching the sport I love (From 1906 – 1914 Scotland v England managed this feat: never less than 100,000 attendance during this time).
Alas, these are changed days and we live in the age of digital media. However, I must side with the traditionalists. With dwindelling numbers at football grounds, and complete lack of local and national talent in the United Kingdom I only worry that collective identities soon become extinct. Of course football must celebrate multiculture diversity, which football has aspired to since the Bosman ruling (1995), but it should never lose sight of local and regional pride and identity.
All that from one kit, eh?
PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS AND THOUGHTS BELOW.