We are playing SydneyFC. And the southern end is chanting “does your boyfriend know you’re here?” It is the football tradition that certain teams are labelled. Melbourne Victory are the ‘tards’ (Never understood why we got such a tag, maybe we were tardy in having a team in the first season?). Adelaide is the ‘inbreds’ due to an unfortunate spate of ghoulish murders that occurred there some years ago. Sydney, I guess because of its Mardi Gras and the reputation of being liberal with issues to do with homosexuality cops homophobia.
This is not solely the preserve of Association Football. Collingwood fans get plenty of stereotypes thrown at them. But with Association Football is different because unlike Australian Football, that has developed within a city, Association Football is usually between teams representing different cities.
I was thinking about this when I was reading an article in today’s Sunday Age about relationship between homosexuality and the AFL. Al lot of things raised by the author are also very relevant to Association Football.
According to the AFL’s own figures, there were 791,178 people playing football across the country last year. It is a statistical certainty that a significant number of them are not heterosexual. (Research indicates that between 7 and 11 per cent of young Australians are either same-sex attracted, or confused about their sexual orientation).
I think about a teenage boy in Echuca who is playing for the local under 17s and is secretly struggling with his sexuality. How does he feel when he sees the response to the Milne incident? How does he feel when he hears former player Nathan Brown say on radio: ”If you can’t call someone a homo in a joking sense out on the field to put him off his game … what can you say? I mean, come on. It’s a joke.”