One decade after the foundation of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network in Vienna, The Justin Campaign joined more than 100 campaigners, fans, football administrators, players, policy makers and experts from 28 European countries in Austria’s capital to devise the future of the FARE network.
Over the weekend the “Football for Equality” networking conference, held at FK Austria Vienna’s Horr stadium, looked into new approaches in challenging racism and homophobia across European football. Only a few days ago Austria Vienna supporters displayed banners with far-right symbols and chanted fascist slogans during the UEFA Europa League match against Athletic Bilbao at the Horr-stadium.
In her opening address MEP Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the LGBT Inter-Group of the European Parliament, stressed her satisfaction that FARE addressed homophobia for the first time so prominently in a conference.
“For football”, Ulrike Lunacek said, “it is also clear that there are some gay man among football players - but very few of them are out. Justin Fashanu was one: A black man, but also gay. He could not live his full potential and committed suicide because of the fear, because of the reactions, because of the prejudices. That’s why it is so important to work against this fear, to be open, breaking the surface, breaking the silence.”
Jason Hall, Founding Director of The Justin Campaign said: “It’s important that all communities affected by prejudice and discrimination join forces in opposing hatred and intolerance. These conferences are important in ensuring the right people are involved in such discussions; however it's the actions that come afterward that are important. Homophobia in football is endemic, a problem that will only be resolved once people begin working collaboratively on the issue, the friendships and partnerships made her today are important, these are what will bring about change in the future.”
The Justin Campaign joined an alliance with the TUC in a bid to stamp out homophobia in football. The alliance was representative of the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) KIO (Kick It Out the FA’s anti racism campaign) PrideSports (The UK’s only lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered sport development company) and Schoolsout (A nationwide campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered equality in education).
The newly formed coalition will set about tackling homophobia at all levels, from grassroots to the professional game and have revealed they will be making suggestions as to how the FA might handle the growing problem in football which is homophobia.
The group will focus on how education can impact on the problem – as well as looking at ways to engage with youth and pupils through sport the group will also be considering ways in which football coaches are exposed to rigorous equality and diversity training.
The second Justin Fashanu Cup Tournament was held in Brighton on the 5th December 2009. The football tournament, aimed at building bridges between people of different sexualities brought together teams from across the UK. Gay, bisexual and heterosexual people of different ability and gender battled it out for a glitter encrusted World Cup replica which was presented to Bristol’s Eastern Cowboys. Other teams playing included the Easton Cowgirls, Brighton Bombers, Cliff Unathletic and others including the Justin Fashanu All-Stars.The event was topped off by a night of male pole dancing, poetry, drag cheer leading, town crying and vegan delicacies at the Portland pub in Hove. A football shirt donated and signed by Brighton & Hove Albion was raffled and raised over £200 towards The Justin Campaign.
The cup takes its name from Justin Fashanu, the only openly gay premier league footballer. Fashanu committed suicide in 1998 after a long struggle against homophobia and racism. Plans have already begun for next years tournament which will be held in December 2010.
Nigel Walker of the Eastern Cowboys said: “The idea was to visit Brighton, play some football, then party. We left back to Bristol with scores of new friends, some bruises (earned, not inflicted) and a lot of wonderful memories. It is with pride we have named the tournament after Justin Fashanu.”
Jason Hall founder of The Justin Campaign said: “Two years ago this was all just a dream – watching such a diverse crowd unite playing football today reassures me that together conquering homophobia in football is possible!! Roll on Justin Fashanu Cup 2011”
The Justin Campaign paid a visit to Camborne College in Cornwall on October 1st to work with student groups on the issue of homophobia. Throughout the day three student groups, all of which were studying sports related subjects, had the opportunity to engage with The Justin Campaign and discuss the issue of sexuality openly and as a group identify the reasons as to why the issue still remains taboo in our national sport. The Justin Campaign also invited a number of players from the Exeter Lions; one of the few LGBT football teams in the southeast, to get involved with the students on the day.
Campaign Director Darren Ollerton said: “I was totally amazed at just how receptive the students were to the message I was trying to convey, they were very opinionated and dealt with the issue maturely and expressed a deep understanding about the injustice which is homophobia and its damaging consequences. It reassures me that these are the sporting youth that will bring about much needed change in the future.”
The Justin Campaign made its way to Norwich, Justin Fashanu’s home town. This year saw Norwich celebrate its first ever Pride festival – a long overdue event. Campaign director Darren Ollerton, along with speakers from Stonewall and the regional press, delivered a presentation to attendees on the work of The Justin Campaign and the life of Justin Fashanu.
To celebrate a full year since its launch and to commemorate the 11th anniversary of Justin’s death, the campaign on May 2nd 2009 made an appearance at the Southbank Centre in London, where it joined forces with Various Voices and an international chorus of singers, sportsmen and women to perform a rousing rendition of “You’ll never walk alone” on the banks of the River Thames. While Republica Internationale Socialist FC represented the Justin Fashanu All-Stars, in full kit, at their annual 5 a side tournament in Leeds, the entire tournament observing a minutes silence, in memory of the late Justin Fashanu. The days close saw the launch of it’s new website a testament to the campaigns hard work and productivity throughout the year, and a definite sign of things to come.
The Justin campaign succeeded in launching a sell out day of premier league entertainment at the city’s coolest public venue for winter pride. Turning the whole place into a wonderfully diverse football arena, deconstructing the game for everyone’s enjoyment.
Campaign founder Jason Hall exhibits his work in “fans, stands, and homosexuality” three photographic journeys in search of hope, meaning and salvation in football’s other cultures.
At the FA's headquarters in Soho Square, Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, hosted a summit meeting to look at ways of tackling homophobia in football.
Campaigners staged a screening of Ian McDonald’s documentary Brighton Bandits, which featured many members of the GFSN National League team, including Justin campaigners Jason Hall and Paul Windsor.
On the morning of 2nd May 2008, campaign founder Jason Hall set off on his lonely vigil, to the place where Justin Fashanu took his life. From that point on The Justin Campaign became a reality, and set off on its mission to begin vindicating the memory of Justin Fashanu, and tackling the issue of homophobia in the world’s most popular sport.
The first day saw the campaign appearing on BBC Southern Counties Radio, in an interview with DJ Gordon Astley. The campaigners discussed Justin’s career, homophobia on the terraces and in the dressing room. Then in comparison discussed the thriving gay football scene that exists today, highlighting the fact that gay people still love and play the sport.
The launch saw the campaigners discussing Justin Fashanus life and homophobia in football, with the public of Brighton, on Marine Parade. Peter Thatchell a close friend of Justin Fashanu’s and also a world famous gay rights campaigner, showed his support for the campaign, by addressing the public personally.
The campaign then marched in the stonewall equality walk carrying placards bearing Justin Fashanu’s name.
A fine first day... The first Justin Fashanu Day.
To raise the participation of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) people in football at a grassroots level
To foster an environment where professional football players can feel comfortable being open about their sexuality
To engage with youth and adults through the use of sport and academia with the aim of eliminating discrimination and prejudice against LGBT people
To work strategically with partners to influence government, policy makers and statutory services to promote healthy lifestyles and well being among LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) people
To creatively challenge the negative stereotypes that surround LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) people
To actively challenge by any civil means any form of prejudice and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation