Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Not so Beautiful Game

Last nights Newsnight included a feature on homophobia in football. The piece was particularly interesting for including the FA's advert designed to tackle homophobia which had it's launch suddenly canceled. Annoyingly, the BBC haven't made it available as a separate clip on the Newsnight site and I can't yet see it on YouTube. The best option (happy to be corrected) seems to be to watch it on the BBC's iPlayer (for UK license fee payers) which is available here. The item begins at 29.42mins and this link should (hopefully) take you to that point.

This means the episode will vanish in the next couple of days so get a move on and view it while you can. It doesn't seem to be on the FA's YouTube channel but maybe it will appear there eventually. Ogilvy, the company behind the advert also has it's own YouTube channel and it may well be that, it might also get posted there. Obviously as ad campaign's go, the FA's decision to now hide this advert after it has been screened on national television is barmy. Come on FA, get it out there.

As you've probably gathered, this whole controversy stems from a decision by the FA to cancel the screening of an advert at the 11th hour which was designed to tackle homophiobia in football. Given the film was FA-led it was a curious decision and speculation was rife that the event was pulled due to a lack of support within the football community/amongst players and because it was too hard hitting. The official line was that the FA needed to undertake 'further consultation'. Pink News has more on the advert story here.

Kick it Out - the campaign group which seeks to target racism and homophobia in football had welcomed the film on Monday, commenting in a press release that: 'The film has a strong narrative that will reflect the reality of gay abuse and kick-start awareness of both the need to tackle homophobia and to help to educate our target audiences to understand what is abusive, illegal and damages our game'.

The story was briefly picked up on the Today programme this morning and the Guardian includes a really good comment piece on homophobia in football. It points out that there remains only one professional footballer who has come out and he (Justin Fashanu) took his own life in 1998 following homophobic abuse so it's not the best advert for coming out. Yet, given that it's estimated there are around 4,000 professional footballers in England and Wales it seems unthinkable that no-one within that group actually identifies as gay.

Well done Newsnight for obtaining and screening the ad. I found the advert incredibly affecting but then I'm a gay man. For me, the film instantly brought back memories of terror, those moments of fear and hatred that I, and so many others have suffered (and many continue to suffer) in the course of their lives. I've certainly experienced every phrase and the physical display/posturing that this advert shows alongside those terms. These feelings were followed by an anger at those who spread this hate - and let's be clear - it is hated. I think the advert would be effective at motivating moderate thinking people into saying, "yes, this is unacceptable". Nonetheless, the pessimist in me also wonders if kids will be repeating scenes - shouting the same slogans on trains and the metro for example. I don't know, but I do know something needs to be done and the FA needs to start addressing this very serious issue. This video could be one step in the right direction but given the FA is incompetent at even launching the film, you do wonder how committed they are.

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Law & Sexuality said...

Thanks to Clark for telling me it's now on the Newsnight website:

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