This is What Zero Tolerance of Homophobia Looks Like

When players from one Swedish soccer team were found to have hurled anti-gay insults at a rival team, the soccer club to which they belonged decided to take firm action against this kind of behavior and suspended the entire team.

Reports say that the entire lineup of Sörskogens IF received a one year suspension for what the club deemed unacceptable harassing behavior during an autumn match against the Stockholm Snipers. The Snipers are a club that has stated publicly that it welcomes gay players.

The club treated the accusations against the players so seriously that they were immediately summoned to a meeting before the club board. Reports suggest this wasn’t the first time the players, all aged between 25 and 30, had been warned over their behavior by the Seventh Division club.

This is believed to be the first time the Stockholm Football Association has penalized a club specifically for homophobic behavior during a match, but the club suspension was not part of that punishment — it was a penalty the club decided to enact of its own volition.

Reports The Local:

During the match, players from Sörskogens were heard saying “you suck cock for 50 kronor”, “all of you have HIV”, and “we’re probably going to get infected”, among several other homophobic remarks, the local Mitt i Huddinge newspaper reported.

[...]

Following the incident, Sörskogens IF was fined 5,000 kronor ($755) by the Stockholm Football Association, which also demanded that top club officials attend a training course.

Club manager Ketil Torpm, in an interview with local radio station Sveriges (SR), said that the club had no choice but to act. “That kind of language isn’t appropriate for football or anywhere else,” he is reported to have said. “We distance ourselves from all insults. Clearly it’s damaging for the club to have players who don’t follow the rules.”

Homophobia in soccer continues to be a problem, but recently actions from club administrators and the players themselves have appeared to show a shift toward a more accepting culture.

Anton Hysen, who plays for Swedish 4th tier side Utsiktens BK, famously came out in 2011, making him the only player even close to the top flight of football who has publicly acknowledged being gay.

Before the London Olympics, the Football Association also signed to a charter designed to give “a red card to homophobia and transphobia” in sport. The charter commits the FA to working towards an LGBT-inclusive atmosphere that does not just allow for LGBT players but makes them feel welcome.

More recently, a number of top flight managers have told the press they would welcome a gay player and that they believe gay players would, on the whole, not face problems.

Soccer players have remained reticent, however. Since the deeply tragic case of Justin Fashanu, soccer’s only star player to have ever come out who sadly took his own life in 1998, no player has been open about their sexuality. A number of soccer managers and governing bodies are still known to be advising players not to come out.

However, it seems clear that a zero-tolerance approach, like that taken by Sörskogens IF, is the only way in which to truly create a gay-inclusive atmosphere in soccer.

The question is whether First Division clubs are willing to test their convictions in this way.

 

Related Reading:

Swedish Footballer Anton Hysen Comes Out

Football Club Dismisses Player Over Anti-Gay Tweet

Italian Striker Hopes There Are No ‘Queers’ on His Team

 

Image credit: Thinkstock.

93 comments

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you"

You cannot currently send a star to Kathy because you have done so within the last day.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

good. this is how it OUGHT to be. Geez people why can't we allow others the same happiness we are so sure we deserve? Just be KIND. COMPASSIONATE. TOLERANT. It really is simple.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin3 years ago

It was the club's own decision to suspend the players and it was very much publicized in Swedish media. Some criticized the club and meant that boys will be boys and it was a way too hard punishment and others welcomed the decision.
I find it encouraging that Sweden has come this far and I hope other clubs will follow. Sport should be open to everyone without fears of being harassed.

Jane L.
Jane L.3 years ago

love this type of culture, wish it was more prevalent in society. It's the way it should be :)

Bruno Moreira
Bruno Moreira3 years ago

noted

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago

thanks

Gene Jacobson
Gene Jacobson3 years ago

Good. If we are going to be an all inclusive world, then steps like this need be taken in order to hasten the day when all people are treated equally well. Regardless gender, orientation or race. We're still a long way from being civilized in all three of those areas but making slow progress on all fronts in most of the world. We'll get there, but it won't be tomorrow. It is good to see a stance this strong taken though as it helps move us along to becoming a place where the only thing that matters is the quality of our character and our ability to do something with everything else subservient to that. That would be civilized. And a quick look around shows how far we are from that ideal. A step at a time, I guess, and this is a large one. Good for them.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Mary L.
Mary L.3 years ago

Good for them!

Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg3 years ago

I am glad that this Stockholm group has taken action. There should be no racial or sexual or any prejudicial slurs allowed in sports. If you can't win without calling out rude things to your opposing team, you don't deserve to win at all.