21/04/2024

Adelaide United's Active Support proudly displaying a "United For All" banner. (Photo Credit: Antonis Pagonis)

The purpose of active support is for everyone to come together and support their team, cheering, singing, chanting, and sticking together throughout the highs and the lows that football creates.

Trigger Warning: Homophobia, homophobic slurs

The purpose of active support is for everyone to come together and support their team, cheering, singing, chanting, and sticking together throughout the highs and the lows that football creates in a way only football can.

If you look at the active support for any team, you will see people from all walks of life and at all different stages of life coming together to support their team. Race does not matter. Age does not matter. Jobs, education, medical conditions, religion – none of it matters when it comes to being part of active support.

Despite all of this, we still have discriminatory behaviour towards the LGBTQIA+ community within some active support, and fan bases as a whole.

If none of the above matters, why does someone’s sexuality? Does it really matter who one is or is not attracted to? If you think it does, ask yourself why it does.

Sydney FC’s Active Support group ‘The Cove’ with a tifo in response to homophobic comments made by Western Sydney Wanderers active support group ‘Red and Black Bloc’ ahead of a Sydney Derby.

There has been a lot of discussion recently around homophobia within men’s football. This is because of Adelaide United footballer Josh Cavallo coming out as gay and receiving homophobic abuse during a recent game between Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory in Melbourne, reportedly stemming from Melbourne Victory’s active support group Original Style Melbourne (OSM).

This should not need to be said, and yet it still does. This behaviour is absolutely unacceptable.

Despite receiving condemnation from plenty of different aspects of the footballing world, there was not a peep from OSM until the below statement was put out before a match-up against Sydney FC on January 25.

The choice of words used in the statement say quite a lot, particularly the line “This group is not the place to push any political or social opinions.”

Being gay is not a political issue. It is not a social issue. It is a human rights issue. It is something that cannot be changed. It is a part of who someone is.

Calling it a social issue implies it is something that can be changed upon receiving new information that helps someone change their mind on a topic, such as whether or not to like a supporter group.

Calling it a political issue implies that basic human rights are something that should change based on what a political party believes.

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Active support needs to be a place where everyone from all walks of life can come together and support the team they choose to support and feel welcomed in doing so. By not condemning homophobic abuse, as a group you are saying (indirectly or otherwise) that you allow homophobia here and that those who are LGBTQIA+ are not welcome.

This cannot be allowed to continue. It needs to be called out. It needs to be condemned. It starts with all of us. If you hear something, say something. Let the person know that behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

If you hear someone slurring a player, call it out. By not calling it out, you are complicit in this behaviour. You are saying it is acceptable, and it is not.

Active support is supposed to create an inclusive environment. It is time that is shown, and that un-inclusive behaviour gets called out.

It is a hard conversation to have, and you will be met with resistance, but it is an important and necessary one. Call it out, or else the game will be unable to grow.

The game will not be able to celebrate the Josh Cavallos of the world, because they will stay hidden, so they do not have to deal with homophobic abuse. New fans will not be attracted to the game if they believe they will receive abuse for being who they are.

This narrative can be changed, and it starts with all of us saying something, and actively condemning homophobia.

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