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Essex FA staff, including newly-appointed Inclusion Officer Mark Healy, are showing their support for the anti-discriminatory campaign ‘Football v Homphobia’ during February and March with a range of activities designed to inspire local clubs to follow suit and organise events of their own.

The FA and county FA are backing the campaign as the local game unites to ensure: “Football is for everyone. No exceptions.”

Football’s governing bodies are committed to leading positive change by reinforcing the message that “anything which stops people participating and enjoying the national game of football has to be tackled and eradicated.”

One of the areas constantly fought is discrimination against any group of people or section of England’s multi-faceted society.

Football v Homophobia is an emerging voice which brings the debate to the fore and, just like the anti-racism campaigns, ensures everyone understands homophobia and transphobia in football are unacceptable.

In keeping with the recent 150th anniversary of The FA, the goal is to enlist at least 150 clubs to actively support Football v Homophobia.

They also want to focus attention on the issue of homophobia and transphobia in football against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people (LGB&T).

The Essex FA are demonstrating their support in several ways. Staff will take part in a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGB&T) Workshop, while Healy is meeting with the LGB&T Consortium to explore ways of engaging with the community.

Meanwhile, clubs, leagues and referees are being reminded that homophobic and transphobic language is not tolerated and an FA reporting line - 0800 085 0508 - has been promoted.

Healy said: “Around six to eight per cent of the population in the UK are thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and these communities can perceive football to be unfriendly and unsafe.

“Some 14.3% of people recently surveyed said that homophobia, biphobia or transphobia had put them off participating in sports like football. As this country’s national sport, football has a duty to try and tackle national issues where it can have a positive impact.”

The Essex FA have also signed-up to the Government’s ‘Tackling Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport’ charter, which has four main statements of intent: to ensure everyone should be able to participate in and enjoy sport; to highlight that sport is about fairness and equality, respect and dignity; to work together to rid sport of homophobia and transphobia; to make sport a welcome place for everyone.

The FA’s 150 ‘Leader Board’ can be seen at www.thefa.com/football-rules-governance/equality/football-v-homophobia.

If you would like to get involved, complete the form to register your activity then send it to equality@thefa.com (so they can monitor the registrations) and info@footballvhomophobia.com.

Mark Healy can be contacted via 01245 393090 or mark.healy@essexfa.com.

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