Openly gay former NBA basketball
player John Amaechi

The launch of a video designed to combat homophobia in British football has been postponed after a leading gay sportsman described the film as “deeply offensive”.

The production of the video had been heralded as a groundbreaking part of the Football Association’s campaign to drive homophobia off the pitch and out of the terraces at games.

In September 2009, Football Association (FA) head Lord Triesman told gay rights activist Peter Tatchell from Outrage! that the video challenging homophobia in football is “one of the FA’s priorities”.

Now, openly gay former NBA basketball player John Amaechi, who was consulted on the project, has slammed the 90 second film after viewing it. Writing in his blog, he called the video “one of the most offensive adverts I have seen in a long time.”

According to Amaechi, the ad depicts a straight, white man in an office shouting out anti-gay abuse to a co-worker shrinking behind his cubicle. The line “This behaviour is unacceptable here,” appears on screen. It then cuts to the same man letting out a verbal tirade during a football match, followed by the line: “So why should it be acceptable here?”

Amaechi, who came out in 2007 after his retirement from the NBA, said that the advert is “incendiary, vulgar and to cap it all lacks the conviction of its own aetiology – to state unequivocally that homophobia is unacceptable everywhere.

“Can you even imagine such a brief for an anti-racism advert?! A campaign that is specifically designed not to encourage black people to be proud of who they are. An advert that says ‘we don’t care if people throw bananas at black people outside the stadium, just don’t do it inside!’”

He added that “It has become clear to me over the last 18 months, that the FA and Premier League are not interested in actually changing themselves from the homophobic, misogynous, racist institutions that they currently appear to be.”

Tatchell, who was also consulted in the production of the video, told that he wasn’t overly concerned about the homophobic language in the film as it was meant to “generate reaction and a debate”.

He said, however, that it “was not in the style that OutRage! and I wanted. We had always pushed for a video that was positive, uplifting and joyful, with a strong music track backing to appeal to fans and which featured vox pops from players”.

The FA said that it had postponed the launch, which was set to take place on Thursday at a high profile event at Wembley Stadium, because it needed more time to reassess the video’s role in its anti-homophobia campaign. No new date has been set for the launch.

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