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The English Football Association Takes On Homophobia

The English Football Association (FA) has come out with a hard-hitting video designed to stamp out homophobia on the terraces. But if you want to see it, check it out now, as the full version is looking very unlikely to ever get a proper release.

The FA has been waging a war against the game's deeply embedded anti-gay culture, and the video is the latest -- and best -- battle in that war. But the high profile launch of the video was hurriedly cancelled amid reports that few, if any, high profile players were willing to be involved.

The trouble with English football, say insiders, is not that there are openly gay players being vilified by fans, but that even straight players who might simply have an education or enjoy the theatre are treated so horribly that no closeted gay player would dare dream come out. Of some 4,000 pro players in England and Wales, not one is out.

And that hate is not just on the terraces, where fan chants are part of the psychological warfare employed by opposing fans, but in the dressing rooms and offices of the clubs themselves. A depressing story is told of Justin Fashanu, who took his own life in 1998 after being shunned for coming out. Fashanu's career suffered under legendary manager Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest. Hearing that Fashanu was going to gay bars, Clough confronted him, later writing in his autobiography: "'Where do you go if you want a loaf of bread?' I asked [Fashanu]. 'A baker's, I suppose.' 'Where do you go if you want a leg of lamb?' 'A butcher's.' 'So why do you keep going to that bloody poofs' club?'"

-- G. EARL

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Noah Michelson