Grant McCann backs City Council's Homophobic Bullying Campaign

Homophobia in sport and particularly football has been a cause for concern ever since the tragic circumstances that saw Justin Fashanu take his own life in 1998.

Fashanu is the only top flight player to have ever come out in public. He was known by his early clubs to be gay, and came out to the press later in his career, to become the first and only English professional footballer to be openly homosexual. He was also the first black footballer to command a £1million transfer fee, with his transfer from Norwich City to Nottingham Forest in 1981.

Following Fashanu’s suicide, the Justin Campaign was set up to help eliminate homophobia amongst football supporters and also the general public. More recently, Robbie Rogers, formerly of Leeds United and a USA international came out publicly as homosexual, but on the same day announced his retirement.

As a family club, Peterborough United is against all kinds of abuse directed at players and supporters. Grant McCann and Community Manager Nick Sheppard were invited to attend the Peterborough City Council’s Homophobic Bullying Conference at the Town Hall.

Every secondary school from the city was invited to the conference which included a number of workshops. The students were able to ask Grant about his experiences of any kind of abuse, particularly when playing away ties for Northern Ireland.

Following meeting the students, Grant and Nick met with the teachers attending the event to discuss ways in which the football club already try to help educate young people about respectful behaviour and discussed ways in which the club could help in each individual secondary school.

McCann commented: ‘I believe homophobia can be cut out to the extent racism has in the past 15 - 20 years through campaigns such as Kick it Out and Show Racism the Red Card. No abuse is acceptable, whether it be because of a person’s nationality, skin colour or sexual orientation. The conference was a really well planned event and it is great to see that Peterborough as a city is so far advanced in dealing with any discrimination that may take place.’

Sheppard added: ‘We are really looking forward to working with the schools in a number of new initiatives to help eradicate homophobic bullying. It was nice to receive such positive feedback about the existing work we are doing with primary and secondary school students in helping to educate them about discrimination and the importance of respectful behaviour.’