05. Homophobic language and behaviour on and off football pitches are openly condemned.
Naturally, the anti-discrimination legislation applies to football stadiums and the Football Act as well contains provisions to discourage homophobic language and behaviour. The FIFA introduced severe sanctions to be imposed in case of discriminatory or offensive behaviour on the football pitch. The circular OOP 40 containing guidelines on offensive, racist and discriminatory language and chants during football matches from Home Affairs (2006) clearly indicates the boundaries of tolerance and what measures the football sector can take to combat racist, discriminatory and provoking behaviour as well as offensive chants during football matches. These measures were implemented through the internal rules of procedure.
In addition, several codes of conduct are in place in football. These mainly pool practical agreements and guidelines, but also contain rules on respect and fair play for players, coaches, supporters, parents and board members. A nice example is the Panathlon Declaration on Ethics in Youth Sports, in which clubs commit themselves to eliminate all forms of discrimination in youth sport.
Nevertheless, in the past, some players, coaches, managers and supporters have used homophobic language. As a result, LGB footballers keep quiet about their sexual orientation, change to LGB sport associations, or decide to give up sport completely.
Through self-regulatory measures football federations and clubs send out the important message that they openly reject such behaviour and that such language goes against the spirit and mission of football. Moreover, the relevant initiatives taken by the football sector itself have a greater impact in terms of awareness-raising.
- Internal rules of procedure and other internal regulations are adjusted and include a specific provision on homophobia.
Example: "The use of obscene, racist, sexist, homophobic and other offensive language is prohibited."
In view of the present action plan, the internal rules of procedure of Pro League clubs were adjusted. The new Article 9 of the internal rules of procedure reads as follows: "In stadiums, any texts, symbols, chants, gestures and improper language which may give rise to racism, xenophobia, homophobia, provocation and discrimination are prohibited."
- A framework for combating homophobia is also offered through codes of conduct and other self-regulatory measures.
- Within the Community Committee, the Pro League will urge its clubs to incorporate self-regulatory measures regarding discrimination and diversity in policy and communication lines.
- In the Pro League's policy plan 'Corporate Social Responsibility' the part on diversity will focus explicitly on sexual diversity.
- The Royal Flemish Football Association has an ethical charter which is subscribed to by each club at the start of the season. This ethical charter contains concrete rules of conduct to combat homophobic behaviour on and off pitches.
- The Royal Flemish Football Association asks its clubs to lay down internal rules of conduct which also include several aspects of diversity and the fight against discrimination.
- On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the promulgation of the Panathlon Declaration on Ethics in Youth Sports (Ghent, 2004) Panathlon Flanders will publish a clarification in 2014 devoted specifically to the second point of the Declaration on eliminating "all forms of discrimination". Panathlon Flanders commits especially to eliminating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (homophobia) in sport.