Following a few incidents that happened recently at matches of German Football Association (DFB) clubs, it is necessary to recognize that the DFB does not understand that homophobia is increasingly prevalent within their organization
Most recently, during an April 28th match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04, a large banner was unfurled by fans of Borussia Dortmund that read “Rock’n Roll Shalke? Her faggots sing to Kay One” (Kay One is a German rapper/ hip hop artist). Fans of Borussia Dortmund have a history of homophobic and racist behavior, including an incident in 2018 in which the fans were chanting and harassing people at Liepzig Central Station including chants that said “Germany for the Germans” and “Gays on the Wall.” In addition, Borussia Dortumnd fans have also unfurled banners in the past, including one during 2012 which read “Better a group in the criticism than lollipop and homo fuck.”
Unfortunately, these incidents aren’t limited to Borussia Dortmund. Another recent incident happened in December 2018 between a match with Red Star Leipzig and SV Naunhof 1920 in which a Naunhof player collided with a Lipezig player and in a derogatory manner; he asked if the Liepzig player was gay and then proceeded to call him a “faggot” and “ass fucker.” The Red Star Liepzig filed a complaint which the Saxon Football Association. On March 10th, 2019 the Saxon Football Association had dismissed their complained and stated that it is just regarded as typical football behavior and that it “does not represent a fact relevant, sport-contrary behavior.”
Essentially, the Saxon Football Association calls the homophobic language used as nothing more than lockerroom talk that is typical in football.
These incidents recognize a glaring disconnect between people’s perceptions of homophobia versus the actual existence of homophobia. A lot of research is coming out that recognizes that homophobic language is prevalent in sports and that it is a contributing factor to why LGBTQI athletes do not feel safe in sports, increasing the fear of coming out in sport and thus, not participating.
While, there have been limited efforts from Thomas Hitzlsperger and VFL Wolfsburg to tackle homophobia in German football, it is clear that the German Football Association needs to get their rear in gear and recognize that this issue is much bigger than any one team or person. Homophobic language is not just locker room talk, it is harmful to the athletes, the sport, and the reputation of the DFB.
By Dirk Smith