Discrimination at sporting events is never acceptable it’s time the governing bodies come down hard!

The FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia. Since the announcement of the World Cup here and the one in Qatar it has been high point of conversation the issues with homophobia and racism in both countries.

The World Cup unites nations from all around the world for the biggest celebration in world sport however the word unite is one not widely used in these two respective countries.

The World Cup is a celebration of the best football teams, should a fans or players sexual orientation or colour even be a discussion?

Unfortunately those idiots at FIFA (I could have used stronger words) just seen to have their heads in the sand.

Just under a couple of months again Russia played France in Russia as a World Cup warm-up. French players were the subject of racist abuse from the stands which resulting in FIFA handing Russia a £22,000 fine for this… for a country just putting together a World Cup costing millions that is pathetic FIFA but it is the standard they have set.

Just to put it into perspective at the U20 World Cup not long ago England were fined £16,000 as a player used an energy drink not sponsored for the tournament. Priorities?

FIFA racism bans have never been more than £40,000 and that is pathetic and the same goes for UEFA they aren’t as great as they make themselves out to be.

FIFA and UEFA have all these campaigns about Respect but what is it actually doing? I have been watching sport for many years since I was about six years old and we see these campaigns prior to the match but asking for Respect is one thing but these governing bodies have to go in hard now. Stadium bans, big fines and a system in place to ban these ‘fans’ for life.

If you turn up at an event to abuse someone you aren’t a fan you are a disgrace and a hooligan.

Back when I was about 15 I remember one of my all-time favourite footballers Roberto Carlos from Brazil signed for Anji in Russia and not long after I saw a story and it honestly was heart-breaking to read and to watch footage of.

The ‘fans’ of Anji who he was playing for were racially abusing him and threw banana skins on the pitch. A World Cup winner and all round legend of the game, that isn’t on!

Not only racism is an issue but homophobia.

Sport and society have come a long way over the years but for sport in particular especially men’s sport there is a still a lot of work to do.

There has been a lot in the online press lately about fans concern going to the World Cup in Russia and Qatar because they are gay, how is this happening in the 21st century? Debating going to support your team and watch the sport you love but main concern is abuse you will get for being gay.

I think it speaks volumes that we do not have an openly gay male footballer in any of Europe’s top 5 leagues which if you think about it is over 2500 people… The only one abroad openly gay and playing was the recently retired Robbie Rogers who played in the MLS, former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzelsperer came out after retiring, he was a fantastic footballer; are people bothered?

A very sad story of Justin Fashanu who was openly gay when playing football. He became the target of abuse from the crowd. He was then accused in the US of committing sexual assault on a 17 year old, he didn’t think he would get a fair trial and came back to the UK where in his suicide note wrote the sex was consensual.

I think a big part is society’s problem and the way people are brought up. Away ‘fans’ go to Brighton and sing homophobic songs, kids go to these matches. To play football you have to be ‘tough’ and be a ‘man’ but why does being gay make you less of those two things?

Next week I head off to WTA Birmingham and I’m excited and as a gay man myself I have no concerns about any chants because tennis is a different audience, a wider accepting audience and lovely people. If I were off to the football I’d be concerned, it’s almost as if you have to hide who you are.

I played football at school, I watch tennis and football mostly. It does surprise people that I’m gay and I watch football… it seems mind-blowing. It’s what I have grown up with, it wasn’t installed on me to watch it I just remember in 2002 watching England at the World Cup in school and enjoying it and I found Manchester United, I had that terrible kit with the Vodafone logo on but the logo had ripped off in the wash.

But also stereotypes fall into this. Just because I watch men play sport it does not mean I fancy everyone! More than anything I admire what they do.

It is a big issue in sport which is what this focus’ on during Pride Month and I hope for those going to Russia it is a safe place. I would love to go to Qatar and watch my country at the World Cup but safety comes first. Until safety is guaranteed and these highly paid people at FIFA take action. Obviously safety can never be guaranteed anywhere doing anything but that word they use they need to implement. RESPECT.

There is a guide which says gay people should not hold hands down the streets around football matches. I have never heard of a sporting event where the fans have had to change their way of life to make the homophobes and hooligans feel comfortable.

World-Cup-Stadiums-Russia-1080x675

 Everyone know what FIFA’s motto is?

“For the game, for the world!”

Prove it!

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