February is the international campaign month of ‘Football v Homophobia’ (FvH) and Hitchin Town FC is supporting the initiative.

FvH is a campaign uniting football in opposing homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people in football. Year round, 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.

Hitchin Town FC is pleased to be supporting the campaign this season.

Chris Newbold, Communications Officer for Hitchin Town FC said:

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to take positive steps towards demonstrating our commitment to being an inclusive Club, and to make it clear that as a Club, we have zero tolerance for any homophobic, racist or any other type of disorderly behaviour. We welcome all to Top Field to enjoy their football.”

In recent years polls have shown that whilst football fans would be more acceptingthan ever of a gay player in their team, as many as 72% of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at football matches.

Using homophobic or transphobic language, or putting someone down because of their gender just because you don’t like the way they play football, manage a team, make a refereeing decision or because of whom they support is wrong. It’s against the Laws of the Game and can be a criminal offense, but most importantly, it can make football an intimidating and unpleasant place for fellow fans, players, and match officials.

Professional footballers Robbie Rogers and Thomas Hitzlsperger, both of whomplayed in England, have talked about the challenges of being gay men within professional football. They have described the impact that anti-gay jokes, language and chanting can have on confidence and self-esteem. Welsh International Jess Fishlock has also spoken about anti-gay abuse she has suffered on social media and has said:

“Homophobia in all sports and all genders is a terrible thing. It really shouldn’t be a reason why someone doesn’t play a sport and it certainly shouldn’t be a reason why someone gets abused for playing a sport.”

Attitudes in Football are changing, but everyone needs to make sure that thelanguage we use and the way we behave reflects this change. Fans can make a real difference to the culture of football, and we’d like your support. We will be supporting the campaign today in the following ways:

  • The team and Managers will be wearing Rainbow Laces to show the Club’s support of the LGBT+ community and Football v Homophobia. Many Club volunteers will be wearing these as well.
  • We hope to have a small quantity of “Proud to be Hitchin” merchandise on sale in the Club Shop.
  • We have a new “Rainbow Canary” lapel badge for sale at £4, to show our support for the community and the campaign. They will be on sale in the Club Shop and Club Office, and also will be on sale online on our online shop. Keep an eye on our social medias for a post for when these go on sale.

We know that change starts with education and Hitchin Town FC recognises it has a role to play in leading the way on raising awareness of LGBT+ discrimination within the club and its community.

Hitchin Town FC believes in a game where LGBT+ people can be seen and heard, and valued for their contribution to football. We will workto create a safe and welcoming football environment for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We want our supporters to help us achieve this.

We have designated next Saturday’s game against Royston Town in support of the Football v Homophobia campaign this February. This is an opportunity for our supporters to also get behind the campaign and show everyone that Hitchin Town FC is no place for hate or bigotry.

Find out more about the Football v Homophobia campaign and action you can personally take in February:

Be sure to use #FvH2020 in any social media posts supporting the initiative.