Star footballers and leading officials in the Australian Football League (AFL) have taken to social media this weekend to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Using the hashtag #FOOTY4IDAHO top players including Patrick Dangerfield and Nic Naitanui and league officials including Collingwood club president Eddie McGuire, Richmond club president Peggy O’Neal and AFL Players’ Association president Luke Ball posted photos to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram holding signs showing their support.
It was all part of the Take The Pledge Campaign begun last year by the AFL Players Association encouraging AFL players and fans to make a public pledge on social media to not use homophobic language and to stand up to those who do.
AFL Players’ Association Acting CEO Ian Prendergast said players felt strongly about the issue and were eager to keep the momentum going in 2014 following the success of the campaign in 2013.
‘There’s no room in our game for vilification of any form, and this extends beyond the playing field and into everyday life,’ Prendergast said.
‘Footy is for everyone, and it’s really important that people involved in the game, from a grassroots level up to the elite level, never lose sight of that.
‘Last year we really saw players and fans unite on this issue and we’re hoping this will happen again. We want to make sure people think before they speak and understand it’s not just about avoiding using homophobic language ourselves, but also standing up to those who do.’
AFL General Manager Football Operations Mark Evans said the wider AFL community was proud to throw its support behind the players’ campaign again in 2014.
‘The AFL and clubs are pleased to back this AFLPA social media initiative to raise awareness about the hurt caused by homophobia in sport and to promote inclusion and diversity at all levels of Australian Football,’ Evans said.
‘Discrimination is never acceptable and vilification based on sexual identity is just as offensive as vilification based on gender, race, religion, color or disability.’
In addition to the social media campaign the AFL also hosted a broadcast of LGBTI radio station JOY 94.9FM on Friday afternoon at Etihad Stadium during the Essendon versus Sydney game in Melbourne.
To see more photos from the campaign click here