By Ollie Irish
This is the FA’s much-talked about video to promote its ‘Kick It Out’ anti-homophobia campaign:
The official line is that it’s been “two years in the making with the FA”, which seems an awfully long time to produce a video that probably took a day or two to shoot.
I think the video itself is fine. The white-collar homophobe at its heart is certainly repugnant enough to be convincing – sadly, there are too many bigoted football fans like him out there, the sort of morons who couldn’t even spell HIV.
But of course, the FA being the FA, they had to miss an open goal when it presented itself: “The FA intended to have a high-profile launch and then had second thoughts at the last minute to reassert their strategy.”
This is not the sort of campaign about which to have second thoughts, especially not after two years of planning. It sends the message that perhaps the FA is paying mere lip service to stamping out the sort of vile chants that Sol Campbell, for example, has had to endure for much of his playing career.
The high-profile names that the FA has selected to back this campaign are thin on the ground – hence the lack of high-profile launch – and also depressingly predictable: there’s Elton John (“He’s one of them and he likes football!”) and Gustavo Poyet (“He manages Brighton and there are loads of that lot down by the sea!”). Come on, you can do better than that, no?
Apparently not though. Where is David Beckham, a man who is usually happy to put his name and smile to any good cause? Where is John Terry, who was captain of the national team when this campaign was set to be launched? Where is Fabio Capello? Or any England player, for that matter. Indeed, it seems NO big names wanted to put their name to the anti-homophobia campaign, which is why the FA had to go with this type of generic, name-free video.
According to the Independent, “Both players and agents declined a request by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) to take part” in the video, presumably because they feared being targeted by the very fans this campaign seeks to re-educate. Shame on them all.
Football desperately needs its first openly gay Premier League star, even if he’s retired – a John Amaechi/Gareth Thomas figure. It will happen, but without the support of Becks and co., it will simply take longer.
And a news report on how the FA bungled the video launch: