Ross County football club, of the Scottish Premier League, have made a significant gesture contributing to a growing movement that is helping to propel sport into the 21st century. The club invited a group from Inverness called Pillar, run by LGBT Youth Scotland, to a match against Partick Thistle. This gesture is being seen as an attempt to banish homophobia from Victoria Park, their home stadium, and effectively from the game.
Football is renowned for having many problems with homophobia, although a small change is starting to become apparent. Earlier this year a Norwegian football player was sent off for a derogatory use of the word “gay”. Due to the way football has created icons and leaders that many supporters imitate, it is vital that these “icons” are leading the way forward to promote positive messages.
Down south from Ross County in our own city of Glasgow there is a great example of players promoting positive messages: United Glasgow FC is a football club and a charity that was formed “to provide a point of access to regular, structured football for those who might find themselves excluded”. It has three men’s teams and one women’s team. Everyone involved with United Glasgow FC works hard to create a safe and positive environment free from any discrimination as well as taking part in marches and making lots of sound in the media. Two of the teams play in a league specifically created for the very same reasons that United Glasgow exists.
George Orwell famously said that sport is “war minus the shooting’’, but in my opinion, sport is a misused and undeveloped tool. It has already changed the world, and if used for more good imagine the difference it could make. The efforts of teams like Ross County FC are hopefully the beginnings of a positive, inclusive new chapter in sport. Their guests from Pillar were treated to a victory as Ross County beat Partick Thistle 1-0 with a header from Liam Boyce. I think we all hope that footballers of today and the future will use their heads for more than just scoring goals.