On 23rd January, Fuβballfans gegen Homophobie (FFGH) hosted the second transnational network meeting of OUT!, a Football Supporters Europe-led (FSE) initiative aimed at tackling homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in football.
The event took place at Westfalenstadion, home to Borussia Dortmund, and was attended by the other two principal project partners—the Royal Belgian Football Association (KBVB/URBSFA) and Pride in Football (PIF)—as well as other stakeholders from Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Following on from the first meeting in London, which focussed on fans and fans’ groups, the purpose of the Dortmund meeting was to examine the role of clubs and players.
The opening session included an overview of the project from FSE Executive Director Ronan Evain, restatement of UEFA’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion by Iris Hugo-Bouvier, comments from FFGH’s Christoph Rudolph, and a presentation on Dortmund’s anti-discrimination programme by Sebastian Schneider, who works as one of the club’s SLOs.
After lunch, the group participated in two workshops.
The first workshop concentrated on clubs, with substantive contributions from Jermaine Greene, SLO at Werder Bremen, Max Bergander, officer for club values at AIK, and Sofia Karlsson, the head of education in gender equality and inclusion at the Swedish Sports Confederation. Drawing on this expertise and the expertise of others, participants discussed the importance of social inclusion, what clubs are doing internally to promote it, and how they address LGBT+ issues with their employees.
The second workshop considered the role of players. The discussion was informed by a two presentations: one from representatives of Leicester City detailing the club’s approach to LGBT+ issues, particularly when it comes to player visibility and advocacy; and a second by Oliver Egger from Fuβball für Alle, who serves as the ombudsman on homophobia for the Austrian F.A. and league. Participants also examined what was being done by clubs to create a supportive atmosphere for LGBT+ employees.
After the meeting, Martin Endemann, Senior Project Manager at FSE, commented:
“We were delighted to bring together such an interesting and diverse group of people and will continue to work to make football a more inclusive place for LGBT+ people. We would also like to thank Borussia Dortmund for providing such a fantastic venue and the European Union for their support through the Erasmus+ scheme.”
The next network meeting will take place in Belgium in May. The recommendations of the project will be published in a publicly available handbook shortly before EURO 2020.
OUT! is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and supported by UEFA, QFF, and FIFPro.