Scottish LGBT friendly football clubs Saltire Thistle FC and Hotscots FC have used the final day of the Football vs Homophobia Campaign and LGBT History Month to urge Scottish football to do more to encourage LGBT participation in football and to create a safe environment for LGBT fans and players.
Both clubs, who compete in the UK-wide Gay Football Supporters’ Network (GFSN) League, were featured in a Daily Record article on February 29th and welcome the news that Aberdeen Football Club are to become the first professional football club in Scotland to launch an LGBT supporters group, following in the footsteps of several top flight English clubs such as Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Research from equality charity Stonewall suggests that seven in ten fans have heard homophobic abuse on terraces, and both Saltire Thistle and Hotscots have joined with them in urging fans to challenge this wherever they hear it and see it. Club spokespersons are also urging professional clubs in Scotland to visibly support campaigns targeting homophobia in football.
Daniel Twist, chairman of Glasgow’s Saltire Thistle, has been encouraged by the uptake of the campaign in England, but points to a lack of visibility in Scotland. He said: “That has to be the next step. Most of the top flight clubs in England have LGBT supporters groups, and teams like Tottenham and Arsenal in particular are very proactive. It’s now time for Scottish clubs to realise it’s time they did more.”
Recognising increasing efforts from the SFA, Stuart Mallen of Edinburgh’s Hotscots FC qualified this by saying: “I would hope more clubs in Scotland could make more visible statements about their opposition to homophobia. We have found it difficult to get clubs here to highlight certain issues.”
Saltire Thistle goalkeeper David Barbour called specifically on Scotland’s biggest clubs, Rangers and Celtic, to lead by example. “Rangers and Celtic are the two biggest clubs in Scotland. It would be so easy to show visible support to this cause by flying a Rainbow Flag from their grounds during LGBT History Month, or incorporating the flag into their social media profiles for the month.
“Football is big business now and the big English clubs who recognise the importance of their global brand understand how doing this boosts their image, so it can benefit the clubs as well as the LGBT community. Global brands like Adidas are proactive on this issue – and the Old Firm like to talk about their brands in such terms. Would it hurt them to appoint an unpaid board member dealing with Equality and Diversity? These are just some simple things that could be done.”