Exeter City Football Club will take a stand against homophobia in football at its home match against Grimsby Town on Saturday, February 20.
The match against the Mariners this Saturday will be designated as the Club’s annual 'Football v Homophobia' fixture.
This will be the 12th time that an annual Exeter City home game has been designated as an FvH match.
Normally players would warm up in Football v Homophobia t-shirts and players would walk out behind a Football v Homophobia banner. Sadly, due to the Coronavirus restrictions, this will not be possible.
A guard of honour was last year formed by Isca Apollo Football Club, the LGBT+ inclusive football team, which was inducted as an Exeter City FC community-supported team at half-time at the club's dedicated Football v Homophobia dedicated match in February 2019.
The FvH campaign was launched to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression at all levels in football.
It is an international initiative that engages in campaigning, education, advice and guidance, research, policy consultation and capacity building to make existing football structures safe, welcome and inclusive for LGBTI people.
The campaign also creates opportunities and promotes engagement of LGBTI people in football at all levels and in all forms, improve the representation and visibility of LGBTI people throughout football and to realise the potential of football in society as a tool to create positive change.
It was founded after the death of Justin Fashanu, the first male English professional footballer to come out as gay while playing. Justin played in a match for Torquay United at Exeter's St James Park on December 8, 1992.
Alan Quick, a member of the Supporters Trust and its OGOC Group, founder of Proud Grecians and co-founder of Exeter Pride is the local co-ordinator for Football v Homophobia. He said: “Homophobia like all discrimination, has no place in football. It's time to call full-time on hate.
“Exeter City has a great record on opposing homophobia and four years ago the Club was recognised with an award for its long-term commitment by Lou Englefield, Director of the national Football v Homophobia campaign, who presented the OGOC Group with a commemorative pennant.
"The OGOC group and the Club have a proud record of making sure football is welcoming for all."
Exeter City’s One Game One Community Group works with the national Kick it Out campaign to address all types of discrimination in football including race, disability, gender, age and sexual orientation.
Alan added: "Homophobia and prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people in football is unacceptable. It comes in many forms, whether it is in person at a match, on social media and in other ways.
"I am really pleased that Exeter City is committed to creating safe and inclusive football environments for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Prejudice and discrimination in football affects us all, not just LGBT people.
"My late friend, Justin Fashanu, the first ever out gay male professional footballer suffered from racism and bullying and hostility after his sexual orientation became public, but so too have heterosexual footballers such as Graeme Le Saux and Sol Campbell.
"LGBT people are everywhere. Sons, daughters, mums, dads, aunties and uncles could be LGBT. LGBT people are in all walks of life. They are receptionists, doctors, bus drivers, physios, and yes, even footballers."
Grecians' media officer Craig Bratt added: "It is hugely important to myself and other LGBTQ people within football that the club dedicates a match day to this campaign. Unfortunately we still have a long way to go in challenging homophobia but I'm really proud that Exeter City are leading the way in inclusivity."
If you witness any behaviour during a game, like anti-gay chanting and hateful or prejudiced language, speak to a nearby steward, the police, a club official, or contact the FA by telephone 0800 085 0508 or email: footballforall@TheFA.com.
Alternatively report incidents via Facebook/KickitOutOfficial or Twitter @KickitOut.
You can follow FVH on Facebook or Twitter: @FvHtweets or visit the website: www.footballvhomophobia.com.