European Championship 2024 Highlights Urgent Need for LGBTQ Inclusivity in Men’s Football

Fnf Event
© FNF Europe

With the start of the European Championship, the issue of LGBTQ integration in football, particularly men’s football, is increasingly coming into focus. Despite the FA's 2016 guidance aimed at reducing transphobia, the binary culture remains deeply rooted in professional sports. Recent decisions by FIFA, including hosting tournaments in Russia and Qatar - countries known for anti-LGBTQIA+ stance - further underscore the contradictions within the sport's global governance.

Germany, the host for this year's European Championship, alongside UEFA, has pledged an inclusive tournament experience, with gender-neutral bathrooms and ticket lanes. However, this has done little to change the widespread homophobic tendencies within professional football. The global audience for the championship is expected to reach five billion, yet the discourse around LGBTQ rights remains minimal.

For Luis C. Cano, Campaign Consultant for the ALDE Party, it is necessary that consequences are put in place: “There is this whole culture that is so toxic that it is almost impossible to battle with. Federations should be held accountable, because they should make sure that their players and fans are safe.”

While homosexuality is generally accepted, in the world of football there are still many hurdles when it comes to recognizing one's gender identity, such as switching from the men’s team to the women’s team as a transgender person. This is one of the main concerns, says Julia Monro, Member of the Federal Board, LSVD+, The Lesbian and Gay Federation, Germany.

Even in Amsterdam, the capital of the liberal Netherlands, the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage 20 years ago, recent surveys show that only 40% of those under 16 find same-sex marriage acceptable. This concerns the young generation, from whom one would expect to have grown up in a society that values diversity, says Lennart W. Salemink, former candidate for the European Parliament, Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie, Netherlands. “What we see here is that this is not just a problem that comes with the rise of the far-right, but a bigger societal problem.”

In light of the current situation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation hosted an event on Wednesday, 19th June, “Offside? LGBTQ Integration in Professional Football.”

The European Dialogue of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom is advocating for a zero-tolerance policy towards homophobic remarks and actions. We emphasize the need for clear consequences to foster a safer and more accepting environment within football.