In 2010 The Justin Campaign, named in memory of out gay footballer Justin Fashanu, started the international campaign Football vs Homophobia in order to tackle the ever-present problem of homophobia within football. To coincide with LGBT History Month, February 19th sees the second annual Homophobia vs Football day.
Despite the presence of out gay players in other sports, such as Gareth Thomas from the world of rugby (which is a sport known for having quite a macho image), there are no out gay professional football players in this country. Despite the FA saying they take the issue of homophobia within the sport seriously, as yet they have been unable to persuade any Premiership player to come out or have his team support him in this. Publicist, Max Clifford, has gone on record as saying that he warned two gay Premiership players he has represented that coming out publicly would probably ruin their careers.
A survey of football fans, players and officials, carried out by the University of Staffordshire, has found that the overwhelming majority believe there is no place in football for homophobic behaviour and views. Although the FA and the Professional Footballers Association have stated that they are working within the game to stamp out homophobia on the terraces and within clubs, much as it did to tackle the problem of racism, there is still a problem, certainly within football internationally, be it from remarks by Sepp Blatter (who runs FIFA), clubs or managers . However, the fact that both the FA and the Kick It Out campaign (which has worked hard to tackle all forms of discrimination in the game) have given their full endorsement to the Football vs Homophobia initiative, there is some hope that progress will be made.
There are a number of gay/gay friendly football teams around the country, as well as the Gay Football Supporters Network that aims to encourage and support LGBT people to get involved with the sport and tackle homophobia within it. The G.F.S.N have also made links with the F.A. Considering the developments that have been made, the University of Staffordshire survey and the campaigns that are happening, there is good reason to hope that homophobia will soon be eradicated from football. So, maybe one day, professional footballers will feel comfortable enough to come out and be happily open about their sexuality.