Anti-homophobia the goal of gay soccer tournament
Openly gay footballer and beyondblue ambassador Jason Ball will be the patron of this weekend’s Justin Fashanu Cup.
Pride Football Australia's annual tournament will see Melbourne and Sydney’s gay soccer teams, the Melbourne Rovers and Sydney Rangers in a challenege for two prestigious awards.
The Melbourne Rovers women’s’ team compete against Sydney’s Flying Bats Football Club, for the Julie Murray Cup while the Rovers men compete with the Sydney Rangers for the Justin Fashanu Cup.
The women’s trophy is named after the internally acclaimed player, Olympic champion and FIFA Ambassador, Julie Murray.
Anti-homophobia in sport campaigner Jason Ball said Fashanu’s story was a tragic one. England’s first high-profile black footballer, Fashanu was also gay and who’s coming out in 1990 was highly publicised. Hostility over his sexuality dogged him until he committed suicide in 1998 in the wake of a scandal following an alleged assault of a seventeen-year-old boy.
“That is the extent to which homophobia can ultimately affect someone,” Ball said.
“Its important for people today to remember that story because these days we can be quite complacent about pushing to eradicate homophobia from sport but that is a reminder of what it can lead to. It’s also positive that whereas that happened to him in the 80s, only this year Robbie Rogers has come out and been so embraced by the soccer community and it shows we are making progress.”
Although a footballer, Ball said that most male team sports have a similar problem.
“When we look at AFL, EPL, NFL it’s the same problem again and again. It’s a culture that has traditionally been very masculine and with that has comes a lot of homophobia, a lot of homophobic language, and this is what needs to get challenged. Codes can learn from each other in finding ways in moving beyond that kind of prejudice in making all sport a more inclusive and welcoming place.”