The PCS PROUD National Committee recently wrote to West Ham United following reports that one of their players, Ravel Morrison, was fined £7000 by the FA for a derogatory remark concerning sexual orientation was posted on his Twitter account. Here is a copy of that letter:
Recently your player, Ravel Morrison, reportedly admitted posting a homophobic remark on Twitter. We are pleased that the FA has considered this disgusting remark serious enough to investigate and applaud the fact that the FA now recognise that homophobia is not acceptable in sport.
We are, however, very disappointed that you have failed to make a statement on the matter other than to say you are aware of the charge and will co-operate. This was an opportunity to make clear your support for anti-homophobia campaigns within sport and re-affirm a commitment to tackle prejudice in all forms and to also sign the sports charter against homophobia if you have not already done so.
PCS PROUD are encouraged by the statement from Oxford City Football Club for stating that homophobic comments, made by player Lee Steele via Twitter, were contrary to the clubs ethos.
The failure to challenge homophobic language perpetuates its acceptability!
PCS PROUD are also disappointed that following reports of Ravel Morrisons admission that he had used homophobic language he then captained the West Ham United development squad on 17th February and his contribution was celebrated.
PCS PROUD suggests that this is an opportunity for Ravel Morrison and the club to gain some understanding of the seriousness of homophobia and its consequences. Perhaps he could spend some time with an organisation supporting victims of homophobia.
This is particularly poignant as last weekend was the launch of the annual International Football v Homophobia campaign and follows shortly after the BBC3 documentary ‘Britain’s Gay Footballers’ which showed a lack of willingness from the professional football league to discuss the issue of homophobia.
We would like to know if there is to be any further action taken and what steps are you taking to eliminate Homophobia in football?
PCSPROUD National Committee
The voice of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender members of the Public and Commercial Services Union
The club have responded with the following statement which is also now on their website.
West Ham United were this week invited by The Football Association to be part of a high-profile summit aimed at tackling homophobia and transphobia.
At the launch of the Opening Doors and Joining In campaign at Wembley Stadium, respected names from across the football family came together to air their views. They included two former Hammers midfielders in Bobby Barnes, representing the Professional Footballers’ Association, and The FA’s Director of Football Development Sir Trevor Brooking – as well as the club’s HR Director Michael Kerr.
All present confirmed their support for a drive to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) communities get actively involved without fear of discrimination or prejudice.
The event included a six-point FA action plan promoting inclusion, widening diversity in the game and addressing discrimination in all its forms – education, visibility, partnership, recognition, reporting and monitoring.
The issue has been brought into the public consciousness around a TV documentary by Amal Fashanu about her uncle, the former West Ham United forward Justin Fashanu who committed suicide aged 37 in 1998. Fashanu was the first openly gay footballer to come out in top-level English football.
Barnes, who took part in an awareness session with the Hammers squad this week, said footballers had done much in kicking out discrimination within the game, especially in terms of racism, and said they could lead the way again in terms of homophobia and transphobia.
A new poster campaign will be shown in dressing rooms around the country simply saying ‘gay or straight, we are all winners’.
The PFA assistant chief executive added: “I am very proud to be here. It is a necessary step on the road to equality and inclusion in football. [In football], we don’t give ourselves the credit we are due as an industry. Because of the fact football has such a resonance and reach, we can affect such areas.”
Sir Trevor spoke about the need to focus on those just coming into the game. In recalling his playing days and ongoing work with aspiring youngsters, he spoke of the need for greater education and setting the right example. “We have to make sure we treat everyone the same,” he said.
FA General Secretary Alex Horne had opened the conference and set the tone for a frank exchange of views which demonstrated how far the game has come, but also how far is still to go. The key going forward was to ensure an environment where discrimination will not be tolerated, and The FA outlined how they will, and already are, take a strong stance in punishing those who discriminate.
Horne said: “If someone is gay, we want them to feel secure if they choose to be open and know they will not be subject to abuse or ridicule.”
Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone made clear that whilst this was another positive step and a “red letter day”, there was still work to be done.
“Everything I heard today made me think that this was a genuine, committed serious step forward. This is day one; we’ll see where we are on day 366. That will be the test.”
A successful session concluded with an address from Club England Managing Director Adrian Bevington, who underlined that there was a desire to have a ‘so what’ mentality in the game, should anyone choose to be open about their sexuality. Work would continue to remove barriers and to ensure an eternal legacy where individuals are judged only on their football merits.
He said: “We want to ensure that if any player wishes to be open about their sexuality, then they can do it with the full support of the FA. We want a “So what?” culture in football.”
The club were keen to point out that West Ham United already have community projects and are keen to become involved in the football v homophobia campaign.
PCSPROUD are pleased that the club responded to our letter and that the club is taking steps to join important anti-homophobia and transphobia campaigns.