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Cybersmile and EE launch GayVAR campaign after research reveals 71% of Brits agree homophobia is a problem in football

football homophobia a problem according to most Brits
© Ellen Kerbey

A new campaign launched by The Cybersmile Foundation and EE comes after new research revealed that 71% of Brits agree that homophobia is a problem in football.

With the prevalence of homophobic incidents affecting match fixtures throughout the season, The Cybersmile Foundation and EE have teamed up to highlight the problem in their new educational campaign entitled ‘GayVAR’ – encouraging football fans to take a stand against homophobic incidents, and call them out.

Research commissioned by EE released in February revealed stark figures about the issue in the UK with nearly three-quarters of those surveyed (71%) and nearly nine in ten (88%) of LGBTQ+ respondents agreeing that homophobia is a problem. Nearly half (40%) of respondents also said social media makes the problem worse. One-fourth of respondents reported having personally experienced homophobic hate online in the last two years. Of particular concern was how few people chose to speak out against it despite its prevalence. The research highlighted that more than one-fourth (27%) of witnesses to homophobic abuse took no action in response to witnessing it.

The launch of GayVAR, inspired by pitch-side VAR (Video Assistant Referee), brings together Premier League players and sporting figures to highlight the problem in detail. EE and Cybersmile have since unveiled a number of videos as part of the initiative featuring the likes of Jordan Henderson, Lucy Bronze and Jake Daniels – with powerful messages. The impact of homophobia is being felt widely in the sport and the aim of the campaign is to highlight the abuse and to get fans to understand the negative effects slurs can have including what some consider to be merely just ’banter’.

The initiative is raising funds for The Cybersmile Foundation, with Hope United shirts being made available for purchase where all proceeds will go to the charity in support of their work. This follows the success of their previous campaign last year ahead of the UEFA European Championships, which addressed sexist abuse in football.