LONDON, UK – A number of football players and comedian Tom Allen are fronting a new campaign for The Cybersmile Foundation and EE, highlighting the impact of homophobic abuse in football.
The launch of GayVAR follows a dramatic rise in reported incidents of abuse in football across the UK.
The new campaign, which sees the return of EE’s Hope United squad, aims to address the issue of homophobia while educating football fans on its negative impact – encouraging responsibility and accountability.
EE and The Cybersmile Foundation announced the campaign in February, revealing a series of videos and educational content to coincide with several top tier fixtures.
Among the familiar faces that have participated in the initiative include Lucy Bronze, Jordan Henderson, Jake Daniels, Declan Rice and Joe Cole. This week, The Cybersmile Foundation revealed a new video fronted by Jordan Henderson, demonstrating homophobic social media posts.
Inspired by pitch-side VAR (Video Assistant Referee), the campaign also focuses on the absurdity of homophobic abuse while sending a clear message to fans that they should take a stand and call it out when they see or experience it.
According to new research commissioned by EE, about three quarters (71%) of UK football fans say homophobia is a problem, and that number climbs to nine in ten (88%) among LGBTQ+ respondents. Nearly half (40%) think social media makes the problem worse.
One-fourth of those polled personally experienced internet homophobia in the previous two years. Despite its widespread use, few people speak out against it with more than one-fourth (27%) of witnesses to homophobic abuse doing nothing. In particular, respondents from the LGBTQ+ community indicated they were less inclined than the general UK population to take action if they witnessed hate (27% vs. 21%), indicating the need for more action to encourage support for those affected by homophobia.
As part of the initiative, Hope United shirts are being made for sale with funds raised going towards Cybersmile in support of their mission.
This marks the second campaign between The Cybersmile Foundation and EE since last year.