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Football lovers fear racism row will stop action on gay hate

Gay campaign group worries media storm over Kick It Out drive will mean homophobia and transphobia neglected in British game
Former Manchester United footballer Ravel Morrison was fined and warned by the FA for a homophobic tweet

Campaigners fighting against racism in British football are being urged not to neglect homophobia and transphobia in their Kick It Out drive.

Campaign group Kick It Out started its annual anti-racism drive on 18 October, running until 29 October, with players traditionally wearing T-shirts as a show of support.

Several players made headlines this week, including Jason Roberts and brothers Rio and Anton Ferdinand, after refusing to wear the T-shirt until more is done to address racism in football.

However, the Gay Football Supporters' Network (GFSN) say they are concerned that the current media attention being given to racism in football is drowning out their ongoing fight to end discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity in the sport.

In an open letter to national football authorities, GFSN chair Chris Basiurski says they were 'disappointed' that the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) wasn't doing more to address homophobia in its six-point action plan launched yesterday (24 October).

Despite the plan insisting it didn't want to 'lose sight' of other equality issues such as gender and sexual orientation, Basiurski wrote that the PFA's announcement was 'hastily made without consultation and without any concrete proposal for other forms of discrimination.'

The letter read: 'We believe the action plan will create the impression that certain forms of discrimination are more important than others and indeed that some forms of racism are more important to tackle than others.'

Basiurski continued: 'We continue to be concerned that the football authorities have a narrow understanding of the issue, as evidenced by the PFA’s announcement which fails to recognise that Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and Asians in football are all parts of racism,' the letter reads.

'In the areas of homophobia and transphobia, we have witnessed a similar lack of understanding.'

The gay campaign group adds that they were 'alarmed' by football authorities' 'unwillingness' to discuss tackling anti-gay abuse in the beautiful game.

GFSN said they were also concerned that some players were unhappy over Kick It Out including other forms of discrimination in its remit.

The letter calls on the PFA to draw up a new action plan which includes gay discrimination and for a round table discussion to be arranged with all soccer agencies.

The PFA's plan comes in response to a number of players who expressed frustration over their union in tackling racist abuse in the game, with there even being talk of a breakaway organisation for black players.

Most of the points on the PFA action plan would have to be agreed by the Football Association and the leagues, who say they will study the proposals.

The Premier League said they would discuss the PFA plan with their 20 members clubs.

A Premier League spokesman said: 'When we receive this proposal we will of course discuss it with the PFA at our regular meetings and engage with our clubs and other organisations, including the FA, Football League and the LMA, to discuss these important issues.

'The Premier League is a meritocracy and is committed to promoting equality and diversity in football and eradicating all forms of discrimination from the game.'

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