In a culture still rife with homophobia, Liverpool FC's 'banned words' list should be welcomed

What is ‘gay’ about a bad pass, a missed penalty, a poor free kick? Why are players ‘gay’ if they don’t jump into every 50/50 tackle without a care for a career-ending injury?

Share
Related Topics

There has been much media amusement at Liverpool FC’s directive for fans to cease shouting expressions such as 'Man Up!' 'Don’t play like a girl' and 'That's gay.' The 'Political-Correctness-Gone Mad' brigade have predictably gone er, ‘mad’ (itself an offensive word), yet such expressions are surely out of kilter with modern society.

As a football fan who grew up on the terraces during the 70s and 80s, blatant racism and homophobia were not only tolerated but actually encouraged in a culture where white, working class males watched other white, working class males perform in white, working class cities and towns.

The homoerotic nature of football supporting was perhaps masked by fan attitudes towards players who displayed what they perceived as ‘unmanly’ traits; these included the following :

Avoiding a tackle

Having long hair

Not sporting a muzzy

Diving

Groaning after your leg’s been broken in three places

Now, as a red-blooded heterosexual and father of two (OK, I’M STRAIGHTER THAN A ROMAN ROAD, RIGHT?) I find all these phrases offensive but not the obvious ones. Of course ‘playing like a girl’ and ‘that’s gay’ are chauvinistic and homophobic but it’s ‘Man Up!’ that really gets my goat (no offence intended to the Capra aegagrus hircus species). I find ‘Man Up!’ offensive on many levels.

Firstly, anyone who utters such a preposterous phrase is exactly the type of person who calls people ‘guys.’ The ‘Man Up!’ mob have probably never had a fight in their lives, yet desperately want to be seen as tough. They have ridiculous tribal tats and drink expensive bottled lager just like the ‘lads’ in the lager adverts.

Secondly, it makes no sense. I’m not sure how one does “Man Up!” I’ve heard of “Man Down!” in a military sense of losing a soldier (or player) but ‘man up?’ If by ‘man up’ it is assumed that the male in question must adhere to some collective orthodoxy of manly qualities, then I’d like to peruse this list myself.

Footballers and all sportsmen and athletes operate in the most homosocial arena (apart from battlefields of course). Overwhelmingly male, the crowds tend to adopt a kind of herd mentality regardless of age, race, religion or class. Gotta be one of the boys, the lads, the 'fellars', the 'guys.' It's within this context that homophobia remains a taboo that needs confronting. It’s all too easy to laugh off  Liverpool’s attempt at defining insulting words and phrases as PCGM or ‘nanny state’ newspeak.

What is ‘gay’ about a bad pass, a missed penalty, a poor free kick? Why are players ‘gay’ if they don’t jump into every 50/50 tackle without a care for a career-ending injury? What is ‘girly’ about reacting to an elbow, kick, stamp or punch?

That these attitudes and behaviours in football have been indulged for so long by other men in positions of power only highlights how language works as a method of camouflaging reality. Many footballers are gay. We know this. Many football fans are gay. We know this too. Both players and fans still feel that they have to hide their sexuality because of the deluded, macho culture of football. Instead of sneering, we should be applauding Liverpool FC in their stand against prejudice.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls  

The campaigns to end FGM are a welcomed step, but they don't go far enough

Charlotte Rachael Proudman
Our political system is fragmented, with disillusioned voters looking to the margins for satisfaction  

Politics of hope needed to avert flight to margins

Liam Fox
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game