The above clip was meant to be the subject of a launch event at Wembley Stadium today, along with global availability on YouTube. However, activist Peter Tatchell tells The Independent’s Ian Herbert, England’s Football Association chickened out at the last minute.
“They were scared it would be seen as offensive and didn’t have the courage to justify their initial decision to pursue the idea,” he said. Tatchell, one of the originators of the idea, has always preferred a light-hearted MTV-style film, featuring music and footballers, though he supported the script when something very different was pursued. Tatchell also argues that the FA should have done far more to drive the pursuit of players for the video, which was left to the PFA.
The FA’s ability to make progress with the video seems to have been affected by the decision to dissolve its anti-homophobia working group and recruit for new members of a more broadly-based, reconstituted group. The first meeting of the new group takes place next month. The FA insisted last night that it needed more time for consultation on the strategy before it could launch the video, though the last-minute cancellation has actually provided a launch of its own.
These complications are hardly a source of encouragement to those straight players tempted to speak out, let alone those who are gay. “Everyone always talks about the success of the anti-racism campaign but that worked because our members could create the movement themselves,” a senior PFA executive said last night. “The push for the anti-homophobia campaign is external to us.” It was an apposite observation. Gay footballers are the outsiders, and will probably be so for some time to come.