Tackling prejudice in the beautiful game

Two opposing team members playing football
27 Apr 2011 17:16:16.533
PA 144/11

Keen sportsmen and women from around the UK are being invited to put their skills to the test at a University of Nottingham tournament in support of a campaign to kick homophobia into touch both on and off the pitch.

Male and female football teams are being sought to compete in this year’s Justin Campaign Tournament Nottingham, which takes place on Saturday July 2 at the Sports Centre on University Park campus.

The competition, now in its second year, has been organised by the University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Questioning (LGBTQ) staff network in partnership with the Justin Campaign, a national initiative that works with the Football Association to show homophobia within football the red card and develop ways to make the sport a safer and more comfortable place for LGBT players and fans.
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The campaign — which takes its name from Justin Fashanu, the world’s first openly gay professional footballer — uses football, education, art and events to challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions that exist around gay and bisexual men and women, in both football and wider society.

The LGBTQ staff network is one of the five Equality and Diversity Staff Networks within the University, and is open to all staff members.

It was formed in 2008 with the purpose of providing support and representation for LGBTQ staff at the University, helping LGBTQ staff experiencing difficulty due to their gender identity and sexuality to access confidential advice and support and organising social activities that encourage LGBTQ participation in the University community.

In addition, it assists with policy development and staff training at the University on LGBTQ issues and strengthens the diversity agenda of the University by supporting initiatives to improve the recruitment and retention of LGBTQ staff.

Max Biddulph, chair of the LGBTQ network, said: “The tournament is a really fun and competitive way of raising awareness of the homophobia which still exists in football and a chance for the University to lend its support to an extremely worthwhile initiative which does so much to celebrate diversity in sport.”

This year’s event has also received the backing from the city’s two football clubs, Nottingham Forest FC and Notts County FC and will be attended by former NBA Basketball player, John Amaechi, who is a motivational speaker and LGBT activist.

A spokesperson for Notts County, Kate Lovett, said: “Notts County Football Club is proud to support the Justin Campaign Tournament 2011. As a club, we recognise and appreciate that homophobia, like all forms of discrimination, have no place in football and work hard to combat them.

“We therefore fully support the work of everyone associated with the Justin Campaign and give our full backing to events such as this. May the best team win!”

Nottingham Forest recently included an article in their matchday programme about the Justin Campaign and the work it does to tackle prejudice.

At last year’s event, the Justin Fashanu All-Stars lifted the trophy for the men’s tournament and the women’s event was won by the team Sparta FC, both whom will be competing again in this year’s tournament. The event raised £300 for the Justin Campaign.

This year’s event starts with an opening ceremony at 10.30am with the tournament running between 11am and 4pm. The event will also feature a stall fair, with a number of LGBT organisations represented.

For male and female teams — no mixed teams — who would like to take part, the cost is £4 per player and stall pitches are available free of charge. Anyone who is interested in submitting a team for the tournament or pitching a stall at the event should contact the LGBTQ Network by email at nottingham.events@thejustincampaign.com before June 1.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

May Fest 2011 is on Saturday 7 May, 11am to 5.30pm, at The University of Nottingham.

The University is throwing open its doors to the community — with heaps of free activities for all ages. The Physics Buskers, thunder and lightning on demand and brain games. Get a glimpse of some of the amazing things that are happening on your doorstep. Visit: www.nottingham.ac.uk/mayfest

More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news

Story credits

More information is available from Max Biddulph, by email at lgbtq-staff-network@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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