The Football Association has cancelled this week’s launch of its long awaited anti-homophobia video, pleading that it needs to review its strategy on tackling anti-gay prejudice and how the video fits into its overall campaign.
The cancellation coincides with criticism and unease over the video’s use of stridently homophobic language in a bid to expose and shame bigots.
Produced by top award-winning advertising agency, Ogilvy, the video was due to have been launched by the FA at Wembley Stadium this Thursday, 11 February.
The last minute “postponement” has caused consternation among football and gay groups who were backing the project, including the football diversity and equality campaign, Kick It Out, and gay rights group OutRage!.
The FA’s anti-homophobia video project was proposed by Peter Tatchell of OutRage! over two years ago, as a way of challenging prejudice on the pitch and on the terraces. The Football Association agreed the proposal and Kick It Out was delegated to produce it.
“This last minute cancellation is a big disappointment. It has thrown the Football Association’s commitment to tackling homophobia into disarray,” said Peter Tatchell of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights group, OutRage!
“Contrary to what the FA is now saying, the video and strategy was agreed nearly two years ago. This postponement comes on top of the FA’s dissolution of the broad-based Tackling Homophobia Working Group. Set up several years ago, the group had helped push forward many of the FA’s constructive initiatives to rid football of homophobia.
“The FA has now reconstituted the Working Group with a hand-picked, much smaller and less representative number of members. It no longer includes all interested stakeholders. Many relevant LGBT groups are not included.
“I always wanted an MTV-style video, with an appealing, uplifting, positive message, featuring top players and a good music track. Sadly, the FA never seriously attempted to get top players to participate.
“The video agreed by the Football Association and Kick It Out features strong homophobic language. The main character, a youngish man, abuses a newspaper seller, tube train passenger and an office worker with anti-gay taunts. The video finishes with him shouting homophobic abuse at a football match. The captions make the point that since homophobia is not acceptable at work, it should not be be acceptable on the terraces either.
“I don’t object to the use of anti-gay abuse to make a point. The shock value is likely to give the video the impact and controversy necessary to generate publicity and debate. It will get people talking, which is a good thing. But it was a mistake to not involve LGBT organisations in planning the video script.
“The ad agency’s advice was that shock tactics were the most effective psychological device to expose and shame bigoted fans into stopping their homophobia. They are professionals and experts in these matters,” said Mr Tatchell.
Gay former NBA basketball star John Amaechi has also criticised the video against homophobia. See his blog here: