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Thursday, April 4, 2013

German Soccer Fans Fight Homphobia

While the terraces of European soccer stadiums are well-known bastions of xenophobia, racism and even fascist salutes, supporters of a team in the German city of Hamburg displayed a very different sort of politics this week, unfurling banners against homophobia at the start of a match.

Video posted on the club’s YouTube channel showed the choreographed display by fans of F.C. St. Pauli, who held aloft rainbow-colored placards promoting the Alerta Network, a coalition of 13 anti-fascist, international fan groups, behind a banner reading: “Love Whoever You Want â€" Fight Homophobia.”

A choreographed display against homophobia at Hamburg’s Millerntor Stadium on Monday by fans of the German club F.C. St. Pauli.

In other parts of the stadium, the club’s supporters draped the banner of the “Football Fans Against Homophobia” campaign, which shows two players kissing, and held up balloons and a sign reading, in English: “It’s OK to Be Gay.”

An online fanzine of the St. Pauli Ultras, as the most die-hard supporters are known, explained that the demonstration would be followed by a lecture at their clubhouse this Friday to promote the message that, “We all have a responsibility to promote a climate in and outside of the stadium and against overt and covert discrimination based on sexual orientation to proceed.”

While the Hamburg fans clearly demonstrated their tolerance of homosexuality, and there are persistent rumors that some members of the national team might be gay, German soccer is still waiting for its first openly gay player. Last September, a German magazine published an interview with an unnamed player in the country’s top division who described the difficulty of remaining in the closet about his sexual orientation. “I pay a high price for living my dream of playing in the Bundesliga,” the player said. “I have to put on a show and deny my true identity every day.”