Showing posts with label International Sports Inclusive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International Sports Inclusive. Show all posts

August 25, 2017

UK's First Openly Gay Referee Says I came Out Because Football Needs It

There are no openly gay players in English football's top five leagues, a fact many attributes to some of the cultural problems that surround the game. 
Just last weekend, the homophobic chanting was heard at a Premier League game between Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday. Two Leicester fans were subsequently arrested, and it is thought that around 50 supporters participated in the abuse. 
    For Ryan Atkin, the first openly gay referee in English football, the incident was a timely reminder that the sport has plenty to do in tackling homophobia. 
    "It's not acceptable for people to do that sort of thing," Atkin, who came out publicly in August, told CNN, referring to what had happened at Leicester.
    "It may not be people that are playing; there are a lot of LGBT supporters, a lot of LGBT young people who go to football who could be LGBT and haven't told their family. When you've got people shouting those things, you're not helping those people at all."
    Atkin (center) will work as a fourth official in Football League games this season.
    Atkin (center) will work as a fourth official in
    Football League games this season.
     The issue is by no means unique to Britain. 
    Concerns have been raised over Russia and Qatar's viability to host World Cups in 2018 and 2022 in light of attitudes towards LGBT communities in those countries. 
    The Russian government banned the promotion of "non-traditional" sexuality in 2013, while same-sex activity in public is illegal in Qatar.
    LA Galaxy's Robbie Rogers, one of football's few openly gay players, has called it "insane" that such countries have been allowed to host major tournaments.
    Meanwhile, in July, US President Donald Trump said that transgender individuals would not be eligible to "serve in any capacity" in the US military.
    "I thought it was the right time, I think the games needs it," says Atkin, explaining his decision to come out.
    "We're at a time in the world where we've got all the trouble in America when it comes to transgender people, the World Cup is going to countries where LGBT is still illegal.
    "I just think the fans need to understand that people are LGBT, but that's their personal life and you judge them on their profession and not their personal life."
     Atkin will referee games in the National League North and South this season, as well as operating as a fourth official in Football League games. 
    He says his coming out has been received positively. 
    "It's been a fantastic experience. I've received so many positive messages from people all over the world, and I think that's something that's touched me. 
    "It's come from people I wouldn't have expected -- from people who are from countries where it's illegal to be gay, people who don't watch the sport but are now interested in it because there are LGBT people within the professional game."
    Atkin's story has since been shared by the FA and the English Football League -- two of the sport's leading governing bodies in England -- and he has worked alongside the LGBT campaign groups Stonewall and Rainbow Laces. 
    He also featured prominently on the blog of former Premier League player Phil Neville. 
    As for the future, Atkin says that the sport needs more role models to serve as leading voices for LGBT people in sport. 
    "For me, it needs positive allies, it needs people who are not necessarily LGBT and they're the people that need to challenge people when remarks are made," said Atkin.
    "You need people within the sport who are respected -- who are looked up to -- to start changing minds. That will be a great asset. 
    "It's about education -- whether you can remove someone and allow them back to football. I don't think you can start banning everybody, but take them away, educate them, and bring them back into football. It shows a good story."

    By George Ramsay and Amanda Davies, CNN

    August 7, 2017

    The Beautiful Scottish Players Sign Up to Back LGBT Rights

     These two Scots go further and got married

    Professional football clubs in all four divisions backed an agreement on participation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
    In what has been described as a Scottish first, some of the country's biggest clubs have signed up to the LGBT Sports Charter.
    The charter aims to encourage access to the sport for LGBT people.
    Equality Network development manager Scott Cuthbertson said the move would help create a "more inclusive" game.

    He said: "We're delighted that these clubs, from across all four SPFL divisions, are today making a commitment to LGBT supporters, officials and the next generation of LGBT players.
    "Today's message is loud and clear, everyone is welcome at football and we are working for a more inclusive game.
    "We don't yet have any openly LGBT professional players in the men's professional game in Scotland but we know there are plenty of LGBT fans."
    'Sport for all'                                        
    Rangers striker Kenny Miller said: "Rangers is an inclusive club and strives to promote equality and inclusion and we are delighted to sign up to the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter.
    "Everyone should be able to take part, enjoy and succeed in sport whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity and we are proud to support this initiative."
    Celtic's Scott Brown added: "This is an issue which needs to be addressed and tackled and therefore we are delighted to sign up to the Charter, and promote the very important message that sport is for all."
    The clubs backing the charter are Aberdeen, Celtic, Hearts, Hibs, Partick Thistle, Rangers St Johnstone, Dumbarton, Airdrieonians, Albion Rovers, Forfar Athletic, Elgin City and Peterhead.
    Partick Thistle managing director Ian Maxwell said: "Football can be a very powerful tool to help fight all types of discrimination. 
    "Football is a universal language so no matter what your race, religion, background, gender or sexuality, kicking a ball about or watching your team on a Saturday helps put everyone on a level playing field."

    in Scotland

    July 26, 2017

    A Surprising Force for Gay Rights Has Become Australian Football


    In most weekends, in stadiums across Australia, thousands of spectators line the stands to take in the Australian Football League. And on most weekends, they can see Sam Gilbert, a defender with the St. Kilda Saints, arrive for match day wearing a rainbow-striped gay pride beanie.
    Mr. Gilbert, 30, epitomizes the modern A.F.L. player: tall and athletic — and mindful of equality. He’s straight, but he joins a pride march every year.
    “I want to help,” he said after a recent practice. “I want to be a straight ally and be a voice.”
    On Saturday, St. Kilda played in its second annual pride match: an awareness-raising game heavily featuring the signature pride rainbow, including on each player’s uniform. It is just one example of how the A.F.L. — one of the top sports leagues in the world in terms of average attendance, roughly on par with American baseball — has tried to present itself as a force for inclusion.
    By some estimates, almost half of the league’s fans are women, and over the past few years, the league has introduced events and matches that raise awareness of breast cancer as well as gay pride and also celebrate the country’s Indigenous and multicultural populations. 
    Some fans like James Krstic, a St. Kilda supporter, find it all a bit much, arguing that the league is too involved in social issues. “I think a sport is a sport and should remain as such,” he said.
    But the league’s push into L.G.B.T. politics comes at a time when Australia’s government is stalled on gay marriage, with lawmakers caught up in an endless debate about whether gay marriage should be addressed in Parliament or by referendum, if at all. And for some activists, the A.F.L. has become an unlikely ally, showing how sports can move faster than politics.
    “If the A.F.L. was a Parliament, we’d have marriage equality now,” said Clint McGilvray, who works with the Equality Campaign, a national effort to expand Australia’s marriage laws. “We wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
    Sam Gilbert, a defender with the St. Kilda Saints, wearing a rainbow-striped pride beanie. “I want to help,” he said after a recent practice. “I want to be a straight ally and be a voice.”CreditAsanka Brendon Ratnayake for The New York Times 
    Still, the A.F.L. has struggled mightily with issues of equality. Incidents of racial vilification, sexism, and homophobia have continued to tarnish the league’s image. Recently, a popular player-turned-presenter was accused of transphobic behavior after referring to Caitlyn Jenner as “it” on a popular weekly A.F.L. TV show.
    Many players and fans see the league — like Australia itself — as still in transition to a more uncertain future.
    So far, no A.F.L. player, current or retired, has come out as gay, even though some players and trainers believe there are several who could. Some argue that that act may be the real measure of cultural change. 
    “The A.F.L. have never acknowledged that there’s a problem to be fixed,” said Jason Ball, a former amateur footballer who became the sport’s most high-profile gay player when he revealed his homosexuality in 2012. “The fact that no players have felt comfortable to come out is reflective of that.”
    Game Time
    On a cold Saturday night this month, old and new versions of Australian masculinity were on display inside St. Kilda’s locker rooms.
    “We’ve got to have the balls to go out there and play our game,” an assistant coach barked before a game.
    The players wandered around the locker room purposefully, hugging each of their teammates, one by one.
    It was not a gay pride-themed game, but among the St. Kilda cheer squad’s oversized pompoms and giant banners, a pair of pride flags waved with each goal.
                                  Rainbow flags among the St. Kilda cheer squad during a match.Credit                                   Asanka Brendon Ratnayake for The New York Times 
    “The culture of the league is changing,” said Sharon Baynes, a longtime Saints supporter wearing a rainbow scarf. “Hopefully, soon there might be a gay player coming out.”
    Shannon Downey, a 32-year-old fan who has played Australian rules football since he was a child, was more skeptical. Reflecting a view that is common among sports fans in the United States, Mr. Downey said the league’s displays of social conscience were mostly a business strategy.
    “It’s getting a bit farcical, the number of initiatives they’re pushing down people’s throats,” he said. “They’re running a corporation that’s trying to capture as much of the market as they can.”
    League officials insist that their commitment is real. Eddie McGuire, the president of the Collingwood Magpies, is a prominent, divisive figure who has alienated some progressive fans and players with off-color jokes. Still, even he argues that the league is ahead of Australian society on progressive issues.
    “I’ll back the A.F.L. and its clubs ahead of every institution in this country: churches, politicians, political parties, businesses, universities — the lot,” he said. “I’m absolutely serious.”
    Mr. McGilvray, the marriage equality activist, said he appreciated Mr. McGuire’s enthusiasm, but he noted that “we have many organizations — sporting clubs, religious institutions, corporations, councils — all having a crack in their own way.”
    If there were issues that were unresolved, Mr. McGuire added, that was simply because the league reflected the larger context of Australia and human nature. “There are people who are still bigoted,” he said. “Or are frightened. Or don’t understand.” Many players, fans, and officials say that the league’s evolution on sexuality cannot be understood without first reflecting on its fraught history with minorities. In April 1993, Nicky Winmar, an Indigenous player for St. Kilda, was on the receiving end of racist taunts from the Magpies cheer squad. As the match ended, with the Saints victorious, he lifted his shirt in defiance, staring down the crowd as he pointed to his bare skin.
    Nicky Winmar, an Indigenous player for St. Kilda, pointing at his skin after being racially taunted during a match in 1993.CreditWayne Ludbey/The Age 
    It became a watershed moment for the league. Two years later, a rule banning racial vilification was introduced.
    But the years since have been littered with racially charged incidents.
    In 2015, Adam Goodes, the most accomplished Indigenous player in the league’s history, spent the twilight of his career draped in boos after he had security eject a young woman who called him an ape.
    In April, the Adelaide Crows player Eddie Betts was also called an ape by an opposing team’s fan on a Facebook post that went viral. Last year, Mr. Betts had a banana thrown at him by a fan of the same team.
    A football fan throwing a banana at Adelaide Crows player Eddie Betts. Video by Shadows of Racism
    Mr. Winmar, who altered Australia’s debate on race when he lifted his shirt, said the A.F.L. was on the right path to mending its dividers. The pride game represents an intersection for Mr. Winmar, whose once-estranged son is gay.
    “It’s fantastic,” he said in a telephone interview. “Letting people know that they’re safe being who they are, to fulfill their full potential, it’s important.”
    Mr. Gilbert of St. Kilda said that on the field, the culture had already changed. Homophobic “sledding,” or trash talk, was now rarely if ever heard, he said.
    “People are starting to understand that it’s not right to say — that goes with not just sexual orientation, that’s religion and race, too,” he said.
    Australia’s lawmakers continue to insult each over gay marriage (this week, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott told his fellow conservatives to “grow a pair” and confront the issue by referendum). But for the A.F.L., melding tackles and bumps with the pride rainbow is increasingly the way to go.
    On a recent Saturday night in Melbourne, not a half-hour after Mr. Gilbert arrived in his rainbow beanie, a young family filed into an elevator at Etihad Stadium. Inside, wedged between his mother and older brother, a boy no older than 5 wore a pride beanie from last year’s game.
    Emblazoned across the front, it read, “How I want to be.”
    By New York Times

    July 13, 2017

    New Boxing Champ Jeff Horn (Unlike His Predecessor) Dedicates His Win to Kids

     Jeff Horn

    Jeff Horn, who shocked the boxing world with an upset win over Manny Pacquiao to win the WBO welterweight title, dedicated his victory to kids who are bullied.

    “To all the kids out there in schools — I’m not saying Manny Pacquiao’s a bully or anything — but I’m just saying that this is a win for all you guys out there being bullied,” Horn said from Brisbane, Australia, moments after defeating Pacquiao Saturday night. (The decision was roundly criticized by virtually every boxing expert, who thought Pacquiao clearly won.)

    Horn, 29, grew up in Australia and was the constant target of bullies in high school, once being attacked by 30 people. He later took up boxing to defend himself and prior to the Pacquiao fight recalled the hurt he felt from being picked on.

    “I got called ‘gay’ a lot. Words like that shouldn't hurt me, but I was a kid. It cuts deep, especially when it's every day. You don't know how to stop it,” Horn said.

    “Day by day, it takes a bit of you. I know the lows you can feel. I've had those feelings, like suicidal thoughts. I can remember some days that I felt that because of the bullying.”

    "Pacquiao a Homophobe who's traveled both in the US and His home country preaching to kids that they will be go to hell if not saved by JC and being gay is not 
    compatible with the scriptures and god. Just imagine how confused his preaching most've made those kids listening to him. Those who might be struggling with their sexual orientation."

    Pacquiao might not be a bully, but he has espoused nasty anti-gay views, once comparing gays to being “worse than animals.” Homos'tvern was taken aback by Pacquiao’s comments.

    "I was [shocked by his views],” Horn said. “Even if he thought it, I'm shocked he came out with it. Being in the role he is, being a public figure, maybe he can get away with that. I don't really get into that type of thing. People can do what people want to do. It's everyone's own life."

    It’s cool that in the highlight of his athletic life, Horn thought of others who are in the same situation that was once in.


    March 10, 2016

    Swiss Footballers Fly the Rainbow for Support


    Swedish footballers fly the flag for gay rights

    A Malmö football club which frequently campaigns for gay rights is donning the Pride flag on its new match outfits – after winning the fight against UEFA bosses.
    Swedish champions FC Rosengård, one of the most successful women's football clubs in Sweden, have stitched a rainbow flag to the back of their new jerseys in a bid to boost equality and tolerance.

    But the team revealed that European football association bosses at the UEFA headquarters initially refused their request on the grounds of the Pride banner not being a national flag.

    “I wrote to them in a pretty kind tone and probably argued well. Eventually they replied that they could not approve it according to their statutes, but that they also saw no reason to prevent it,” the club's chief executive officer Klas Tjebbes told the regional Sydsvenskan newspaper.

    The move follows in the footsteps of Kiruna's Ice Hockey club in northern Sweden, which told The Local last summer about how they became the first Swedish sports club to wear Pride colours on their jerseys.

    “Having the rainbow flag on our shirts is a good symbol which illustrates our openness as a club. That we are welcoming to all people, of different backgrounds and different identities,” Anita Asante, a British footballer for FC Rosengård, told Swedish media when the new kit was revealed.

    Club officials were unable to immediately comment when approached by The Local, but fans took to social media earlier this week to praise the initiative. 

    One of Sweden's most successful teams, FC Rosengård have won the Swedish women's league 10 times. The men's side play in one of the lower leagues, Division 2, but are on the other hand famous for being the starting ground for Sweden's top footballer of all time, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    The club first joined the fight against homophobia in 2014 when it replaced its usual corner flags on the pitch with the Pride banner. It is set to next face Linköpings FC in Sweden on March 16th, and FFC Frankfurt on March 23rd as the only Swedish team left in the Champions League.

    Campaign group ILGA-Europe recently rated Sweden the top spot in Scandinavia for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTQ). However, only a handful of sports stars have come out as gay in the past few years, among them Swedish skiing legend Anja Pärson and footballer Anton Hysén.

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