February is the international campaign month of Football v Homophobia (FvH) and Pompey are delighted to be supporting the initiative.
FvH is a campaign uniting fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the football authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in football.
Pompey are pleased to be supporting the campaign again this season, having backed it in 2014 and 2015.
The players will be wearing special t-shirts, sponsored by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, backing FvH month in the warm-up ahead of the Bristol Rovers game.
Colin Farmery, head of inclusion and safeguarding at the club, said: “As a community football club, it is vital we reach out to everyone in our city and beyond and I am delighted the club, with the backing of the Trust, have been able to back this campaign again.
“Since last year the club now has an LGBT supporters group in Fratton Fever – which goes from strength to strength – and we were represented at the Portsmouth Pride festival in the summer.
“Change always starts with education and Pompey recognise they have a role to play in leading the way on raising awareness of homophobia and LGBT discrimination within the club and its community.
“The club believe in a game where LGBT people can be seen and heard, and appreciated for their contribution to the football family.
“We are working to create a safe and inclusive football environment for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We want our supporters to help us achieve this.”
First team stars Ben Close and Adam Webster backed the campaign at the training ground this week, when they met representatives from Fratton Fever and the PST.
The squad have also signed the Fratton Fever banner, which is displayed at Fratton Park.
Clare Martin, CEO of the club’s independent charitable arm Pompey in the Community, added: “I feel it’s really important that Portsmouth recognise the role we have to play in raising awareness of homophobia and LGBT discrimination.
“It’s great that this campaign can support us in making everyone aware of the continuing issues.”
Fans can find out more about the Football v Homophobia campaign or find out how to join Fratton Fever in the following ways:
Football v Homophia
Use #fvh2016 in any social media posts supporting the initiative
FvH enables people to take action against prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity in football, and to celebrate and welcome diversity in the game.
This culminates in an international show of support in February to raise awareness of the issue and to join together in making a visible stand against prejudice and for inclusion.
The campaign was launched in 2010 and manages to generate global attention. In the UK there has been a massive show of support and many professional clubs take action every year.
Homophobia and LGBT discrimination has long been an issue in football.
Recently we have seen Robbie Rogers come out. Robbie retired briefly when he made the announcement about his sexuality, but now, following massive support from players and fans alike, he plays in the US for LA Galaxy.
In 2014, former Premier League player Thomas Hitzlsperger also came out as gay. Both of these players have talked about the challenge of being gay and working as professional footballers, and the impact that anti-gay jokes and language can have on confidence and self-esteem.
Casey Stoney, former England Women’s captain has also spoken out about her sexuality. While she felt accepted within football circles, she has also spoken of her fears of stereotypes and of being judged by the ‘outside world’ for being gay.