The Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA), together with Time for Inclusive Education (TIE), has launched a national programme of educational workshops to tackle an increase in the number of homophobic incidents at youth football matches in Scotland.
The newly launched partnership, the first of its kind in Scotland, will see educational workshops delivered to grassroots volunteers and players across Scotland by TIE staff.
The workshops will aim to raise awareness of prejudice, explain where stereotypes come from, how unconscious bias develops and how tackling exclusion ensures there is always a safe and nurturing environment for anyone who wishes to play football in Scotland.
Workshops will also feature Zander Murray who, in September 2022, became the first senior Scottish footballer to come out as gay.
Zander will talk about his personal experiences and encourage attendees to consider the language they use by helping them understand the impact homophobic language can have.
SYFA Chief Operating Officer, Florence Witherow said:
“As an organisation we see this partnership as absolutely essential to our strategy of tackling discrimination of all types in grassroots football.
“Last year we launched a similar partnership with Show Racism the Red Card and we’re already seeing positive results from that work.
“The way TIE puts the focus on education fits very well with our own approach and, having seen some of the good work and positive results they have already achieved we’re confident that this partnership will have a substantive positive impact.
“Football has an incredible power to break down barriers and foster inclusion across society but, in the last 12 months, we’ve seen a worrying upward trend in the number of homophobic incidents happening across grassroots football in Scotland.
“It’s a pattern that, alongside our leagues and clubs, we are working hard to address.
“We hope that this partnership will go some way to helping ensure that every young person in Scotland can play football in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment.”
TIE Director, Liam Stevenson, said:
“Working with the SYFA provides us with a fantastic opportunity to bring our educational approach to Scottish grassroots football.
“From our previous work in this area, we know that homophobia and homophobic language remains commonplace, and often goes unchallenged.
“This can have a detrimental impact on youth players and their ability to be themselves.
“Our partnership work is designed to help change the culture of the game by working with grassroots players and coaches – helping them to understand that they all have a role to play in making Scottish football a game for everyone, and a place free from homophobia.”