It’s 10 years ago today (May 2) since the world’s first openly out gay footballer Justin Fashanu died. Two days after this sad anniversary – May 4, 2008 – Brighton fans will be launching ‘JUSTIN’ – a campaign against homophobia in football.
Justin was born on February 19 1961. His parents split when both he and his brother John were only a few years old and after the pair of them spent time in a Barnado’s home they were finally fostered out to Alf and Betty Jackson and brought up in the rural surroundings of Norfolk.
Justin’s professional career started in 1979 at Norwich City, he also starred for the England youth and U-21 squads earning him the honour of being the first black player as a million pound transfer when he signed for Nottingham Forest a couple of years later. But the football world failed to accept Justin’s sexuality, and, by 1990 he’d been hounded out of the game. Sadly, only eight years later, he took his own life.
It’s hoped that the ‘JUSTIN’ campaign can help bring to an end homophobia within football and that someday other gay players can be open about their lifestyle and become icons/heroes to all gay adults/ youths who want to watch and play their favourite sport. ‘Justin’ will be launched on 4 May 2008, two days after the tenth anniversary of Justin Fashanu’s death, and will take place at in Brighton at 5pm after the Stonewall Equality Walk.
Speakers at the event will include gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and ‘Justin’ co-founder Jason Hall. The aim of the ‘Justin’ campaign is to get the FA to observe Saturday 2nd May 2009 as Justin Fashanu Day, when Premier League and Football League players will be asked to support Justin Fashanu Day by wearing black armbands and observing a minute’s silence before matches.
A spokesperson for the campaign said: "The FA, in conjunction with Stonewall and the Gay Football Supporters Network, are fighting anti-gay prejudice on the terraces, looking to stamp out the kind of chants that haunted Justin. But ten years after his death, which the football world refused to mark, there are still no openly gay professional players or managers."
Just last week the former Juventus managing director Luciano Moggi caused outrage when he claimed, "there are no gays in football."
But in April last year Portsmouth goalkeeper David James wrote an article in The Observer querying why gay players do not come out, and a 2006 survey found out that 57% of footballers think that football is homophobic.
By Lindsay England