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    Can the Premier League change football?

    Premier League LGBT

    The winners of matchweek 13 are: Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Southampton, Swansea and the LGBT football fans community in England.

    Premier League clubs have recently shown their support for Stonewall, a charity organization which aims to provide equity and acceptance for the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual community within the British society. All twenty clubs have adopted the idea of wearing armbands and laces in the colour of rainbow to help promote the organisation's drive in sport, called the rainbow laces, a campaign to help homosexual players and encourage them to step up and be more open about their sexuality.

    Crystal Palace manager, Alan Pardew shared the same opinion in an interview with an Irish TV journalist, claiming that the gay community needs a big coming out in football to break the taboo. However, non-heterosexual players seem to be still stuck in the hesitation zone, as the world has experience just a few significant coming outs in football so far: Justin Fashanu in 1990, Robbie Rogers in 2013 and Thomas Hitzlsperger who by now remains as the only openly gay footballer to have played in the Premier League, following his 2014 statement. 

    While athletes stumble to make the big call, the league has seen a rise in the number of LGBT fan groups across the country. For example, GayGooners, an Arsenal's supporters group for LGBT fans gathers hundreds of people inside and outside of the United Kingdom and is believed to be the biggest fan base of its kind in England that offers social help to LGBT fans of the club and tries to tackle homophobic behavior in the stands.

    The organisation was also involved in promoting Stonewall's anti-homophobia project throughout the previous weekend, holding a small event for the gay football fans community in Piccadilly, London. Yet, Arsenal LGBT fans were not the only ones supporting the initiative. Proud and Palace, a gay supporters group of Crystal Palace fans is another London-based organisation that cooperates with the club to create a safe space for those of different sexual orientation. Stephanie Fuller, the originator of the LGBT fan group believes the push has given individual gay fans an identity and therefore strenghtens its agenda.

    Probably more things separate than link the two clubs, however both GayGooners and Pride and Palace are members of Pride in Football, a non-profit institution, calling itself the alliance of LGBT fan groups in England, that works closely with 22 factions (12 of them support Premier League clubs) to address the issue of homophobia at workshops, panel discussions and meetings, including the Football Pride Week event which is an intercontinental gathering of anti-discriminatory football fans on gay intolerance in football.

    The strength of such organisations very much lies in solidarity and collaboration with similar parties, as together the chances of making football inclusive for all groups of people are far more possible. It is easier to raise awareness by having Kick it Out, Football v Homophobia or Stonewall on your side and to make connections with important bodies.

    Partnership with the Premier League is a good maneuver, as the LGBT football community in England seems to finally have some sort of influence in shaping the culture of the game. The richest and perhaps most attractive football league on the planet is yet again used as a medium for fixing up problems. This time, it's about fighting for the those, who feel troubled about the lack of understanding for their sexual preferences.

    Time will show, whether homophobia will be left behind in English football, just like racism and hooliganism.

    Dane Chyla

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    Item Reviewed: Can the Premier League change football? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Dane Chyla
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