PFA bid to tackle homophobia

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The Independent Football

Gordon Taylor has confirmed the Professional Footballers' Association are working with the Football Association on a campaign to tackle homophobia within the sport.

Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, emphasised his organisation's "zero-tolerance" policy on discrimination following an in-depth survey into homophobia. The Stonewall Report, whose research included a survey of fans and interviews with football industry executives, called for tougher sanctions on fans and clubs guilty of homophobic chanting. Other recommendations included stewards being trained to identify and challenge anti-gay abuse in the same way racist behaviour was tackled.

"As an organisation we are committed to tackling the issue of homophobia in the game," Taylor said. "We are working with Kick It Out and the Football Association on an anti-homophobia campaign that will tackle the issue head-on and I hope, be as successful as our anti-racism campaigns.

"The PFA has a zero-tolerance policy in all areas of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice. This includes all forms of racism including xenophobia, Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism, bigotry by way of homophobia and homophobic attitudes and discrimination on the grounds of gender and disability."

The Stonewall Report included testimonies from fans and ex-players. "The homophobic taunting and bullying left me close to walking away from football. I went through times that were like depression," said former England defender Graeme Le Saux.

Among the results were two thirds of fans suggesting they would be comfortable if there was a gay player on their team, while 1 per cent of supporters would change the team they supported if they had a gay player.

Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out, said: "We welcome the report. The gay community should know that zero tolerance of homophobia is the only acceptable position."