Benenden health support York City Football Club’s first Football v Homophobia match

21st February 2014

York City’s home game against Southend United on Saturday 22 February, will mark the Club’s first ever Football v Homophobia match and benenden health, the York-based mutual healthcare organisation and main sponsor of York Pride will be there in support of the event.

York City is one of 25 Football League Clubs to actively tackle the issue of homophobia in Football and will be using Saturday’s match to promote their message that football really is for everyone regardless of sexuality and discrimination of any form is not welcome in the game.

As part of their efforts to tackle homophobia and to show support for the local LGBT community, the club has donated 100 tickets for the match to York Pride and has also invited members of the Yorkshire Terriers Football Club, one of the UK’s first gay-friendly teams founded in 1997.

Paul Keenan, Head of Communications at benenden health said, “The Football v Homophobia initiative is hugely important and as sponsors of both York City and York Pride we are delighted that the Club is showing its support to this campaign and taking a stand against homophobia. As a mutual, values of equality and inclusivity are at the heart of our organisation and we have a long history of treating everyone fairly and without discrimination - it’s this basic premise which drives our support of this initiative. We believe this campaign can help eradicate homophobia in football and is great to see.”

York City Communications and Community Director, Sophie Hicks said, “Tackling homophobia is a challenge football clubs need to address for the benefit of players and supporters. Football has such a strong cultural influence, so we must use it as a positive force to help change society for the better. Statistically, there clearly are gay footballers playing in the game. At York City, we feel we have an obligation as an employer to ensure we create a safe, supportive environment for our players, youth players and staff should they wish to publicly come out. As a sport, we have to reach a position where sexuality is just not an issue.

“The Football Association fully supports the Football v Homophobia campaign and more professional and amateur clubs should follow their lead. We are looking forward to hosting our very first Football v Homophobia match and excited about our on-going relationship with York Pride. Hopefully our combined efforts can help to make a positive difference in York and will lead to greater acceptance of gay players and supporters.”

To show their support for the Football v Homophobia campaign, the York City players will warm up in Football v Homophobia t-shirts and a large rainbow flag will be presented on the pitch before kick-off by the ball boys and girls. There will also be anti-homophobia PA announcements before the match and at half-time and articles in the match programme promoting the Football v Homophobia campaign and York Pride.

York Pride Press & Marketing Officer Julian Rudd said, “At York Pride we try to help the gay and lesbian people of York and North Yorkshire to live a full and happy life in this part of the world. We don’t ask for any special favours. We just want the same as other people - to be able to work, to love, to socialise, to participate in our community - without anyone objecting to that because of our sexuality, or making us feel like second-rate people.

“Our country has changed significantly in terms of the legal rights given to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - but it still takes some time for society to catch up. In York it is still commonplace for gay people to be attacked and abused because of their sexuality, to be bullied at school, to hide their sexuality at work or with their family for fear of rejection or being picked on - and to feel like they are not welcome when it comes to playing and watching sport.

Our relationship with York City Football Club started last year and has continued and strengthened. Sophie Hicks, Josh Carson and Chris Smith attended our Pride 2014 launch event a few weeks ago and now the Club has chosen to focus on the 'Football v Homophobia' campaign at the Southend match on Saturday. This means an awful lot to us at York Pride. As Sophie has said before, accepting gay people - both as players and supporters - is football's last great taboo. Please support us, both at matches and, more generally, in how you live your life. Treat someone being gay as what it is - no big deal.”

 

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