Tuesday, September 17, 2013


ANOTHER BALANCING ACT..

One of the nonsenses I`ve come back to in my re-entry into the `real world` is the invitation issued to footballers in England and Scotland (why not Wales too?) to support a campaign addressing homophobia in football by wearing rainbow laces in their boots this coming weekend.

These fetching laces have been sent to all 92 clubs in England and 42 in Scotland by gay rights charity Stonewall.   The Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign is focussing on changing attitudes rather than urging players to come out.   Stonewall`s Deputy Chief Executive, Laura Doughty, has declared, "It`s time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game and by wearing rainbow laces players will be sending a message of support to gay players and can begin to drag football into the 21st century."

Now I suspect that Stonewall`s focus on the apparent problem of homophobia in football may stem from the chants by fans of opposing teams of Brighton and Hove Albion and I suppose it is understandable that some Brighton fans may claim offence at such chants as `Does you boyfriend know you`re here?`   But football is a strange environment.  Football fans are passionate people, they go to stadia to support their clubs, but also to experience the tribal culture which is unique to competitive sporting occasions - `Come on, Andy` at Wimbledon;  `Swing low sweet chariot` at Twickers and the particular form of `banter` between rival football supporters.

A couple of things occur to me here.   One is that this particular rainbow laces initiative has simply had the effect of highlighting a perceived problem and therefore perhaps making the issue worse, even if there was an issue to begin with, which I seriously doubt. The second is that, as in all things it`s important to have a balance and so whenever Southampton may be likely to play Brighton again, I will not be offended in the slightest if the Brighton fans shout `Does your girlfriend know you`re here?`   

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