Homophobia Alive and Kicking in the Stadium

Homophobia in sports is a recurring topic in the public debate in Denmark, and recent months have once again highlighted the fact that homophobic slur is far too common on the Danish soccer fields.

Homophobia Alive and Kicking in the Stadium

Homophobia in sports is a recurring topic in the public debate in Denmark, and recent months have once again highlighted the fact that homophobic slur is far too common on the Danish soccer fields.

Footballer Mathias “Zanka” Jørgensen who plays for the Danish superliga club F.C. Copenhagen caused a positive stir in the media back in December when he brought up the subject of homophobia in the Danish football stadiums and asked why it seems common and broadly accepted to hear homophobic chants during soccer games.

Mathias Zanka Jørgensen

Mathias Zanka Jørgensen

“Why is it tolerated to hear a song – whether it is about me or other players – that goes: He is gay – allez, allez? There is nothing wrong with being homosexual. Why doesn’t anybody react to this? Just like racism this is something that is punishable by law. Racism is no worse than homophobia and it truly puzzles me why it is being accepted”, said Jørgensen who also wonders why it does not seem to come to anybody’s mind what is actually happening:

“We have a crowded stadium in which everybody is singing a song that is abusive towards homosexuals. But I feel pretty sure that nobody leaves the stadium thinking that this was discrimination. So the question is really what is worse: To sing the song in the first place or not to realise what the singing is actually expressing? Apparently it is very accepted to discriminate homosexuals in a soccer stadium”, the 26-year old defender said in the interview which was originally published on stopracismen.dk.

In the wake of the interview Jørgensen was supported by Jeppe Curth, Head of the Danish Football Players’ Association, who expressed his concerns in the matter:

“We understand why some players might find it difficult to come out as gay and therefore choose to remain closeted as long as homophobia and similar discriminatory practices are as common as they are within the world of soccer”, Curth stated.

Karen Ellemann, Minister for Equality and Nordic Co-operation, criticised the Danish Football Players’ Association saying that their statement could encourage homosexual soccer players to not come out and underlined that the association needs to be ready to support all their members.

The Danish Football Players’ Association responded to the criticism by emphasising that they do not encourage players to stay in the closet but still feel obligated to describe reality.

“Soccer players might have one of the most homophobic working environments you can find. Of course the Football Players’ Association would never urge members to hide their sexuality, but at the same time we need to deal with reality as it is, and inform our players on the basis of this unfortunate reality. We are definitely not happy with this and that is why we fight to change it”, The Danish Football Players’ Association said in a press statement.

LGBTQ organisations Pan Idræt and Copenhagen Pride are in continuous dialogue with F.C. Copenhagen and other relevant sports associations to find out what can be done to kick homophobia out of soccer – and sports in general – once and for all.

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