'Football for All': Dutch Stand Up for Gay Players' Rights

For several years, the DFB also spent €5,000 ($6,500) annually to sponsor a float in Cologne's Christopher Street Day parade, but the sponsorship expired under Zwanziger's successor, Wolfgang Niersbach. That isn't a bad thing, say the organizers, because there are already so many participating gay and lesbian football fans that they are better off marching on foot in the parade rather than riding on a float with limited space. But there are growing fears that the DFB will opt out completely, says Robert Thewessen, a Dutch citizen who has helped organize Berlin's Christopher Street Day for the past two years.

Following the lead of the Netherlands, organizers now intend to invite the DFB to take part in the next Berlin parade, with or without a float. Zwanziger was the face of the campaign in football, they say. But Thewessen says the coach of the national team could take over that role in the future.

A Slower Pace

While social organizations vie for the chance to participate in Amsterdam's Gay Pride event -- there were reportedly more than 200 inquiries for 75 boats recently -- organizers practically have to beg groups to participate in German parades. "Social policy moves at a slower pace there," says Thewessen.

The DFB refuses to accept accusations that it is disinterested. The organization continues to oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians with the same momentum, though perhaps not quite as vocally and publicly as in the past, according to officials at the DFB's Frankfurt headquarters.

For example, DFB guidelines for individual clubs are on the verge of being completed. A commission spent 10 months working on the document, which addresses the subject of coming out in football in a country where no professional player has done so. An entire informational brochure, "Football and Homosexuality," is about to be published. Gunter A. Pilz, the head of the task force, says it will be 20 to 30 pages long.

Perhaps it wouldn't have taken as long if the Germans had simply copied a Dutch document. The Dutch association published its 10-page "action plan," called "Football for All," last fall. It contains instructions for coaches on how to address the issue within the teams.

Once again, the Dutch were faster.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.

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