Football Against Homophobia
The case of Halil Ibrahim Dincdag
Many football fans across Europe may be aware of the recent ‘Kampa Showan’ incident in Sweden, where a famous activist, Showan Shattak, of the Football Against Homophobia campaign was hospitalised and put into a coma as a result of a far-right knife attack on a group of activists who were celebrating International Womens Day. This is a shocking event, particularly in one of the supposed most liberal countries in the world, and highlights that there is a long way to go to eradicate discrimination against other sexualities within society. This isn't the only concern at present though...
|Clapton FC Ultras - leading the way in the UK in support of Kampa Showan|
The Eccles & District branch of FC United of Manchester, are currently flying the flag of ‘Football Against Homophobia’ within the club ever since our alliance with the fans of Tennis Borussia Berlin that took place during a post-season tour in 2013. They are at the forefront of the campaign in Germany, and recently, some of their fans have been involved in a heart-warming story surrounding the ‘Football Against Homophobia’ campaign.
This particular case concerns Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, who is a long-standing Turkish football referee (pictured at the start of this article) that ‘came out’ back in 2009. Since then he has had his referee licence revoked, and has had to move to Istanbul to escape media attention and protect his family – although being gay is not illegal as it is in many Muslim countries, Turkish society is still strongly homophobic. Since then he has lost his job, and has been unable to referee. That is until the fans of Tennis Borussia Berlin & Rote Stern Leipzig found out about his plight.
For more background to his story, see here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/gay-referee-gets-red-card-in-turkey-1718056.html
The fans managed to make contact with Halil, and invited him to come visit them in Germany. This proved to be difficult in the land of bureaucracy, as his visa was denied several times. With many Turkish immigrants already living in Germany, the authorities are taking a hard stance on issuing visas. However, they were eventually successful, and it led to a dramatic twist in the saga.
On Tuesday, Tennis Borussia Berlin played a friendly match against Türkiyemspor, a team that started in the late 1970’s, which are supported by many Turkish immigrants living in Berlin. How apt then that Halil, in his first competitive match since his ban within Turkey five years ago, led both teams out onto the pitch with tears in his eyes, and went on to referee the match.
He has been described by the fans who arranged this trip as a great guy, very modest, yet firm, fair, and confident in his refereeing ability. Despite all the complications he has faced since coming out, Halil claims that he doesn’t regret coming out, as he sees this battle, one in which he will be taking to the European Court of Human Rights, as something of upmost importance.
Yesterday he refereed his second match, Roter Stern Leipzig’s first vs. second team, which was described again as an emotional affair. In this instance, some of the Berlin fans even travelled down to Leipzig to support Halil. Who would have thought in this day and age there would be fans that can be classed as supporters of certain referees? That my friend is what we call post-modern football.
Today, Halil Ibrahim Dincdag returned ‘home’ to Turkey to carry on his underground lifestyle, to continue with his battle to become reinstated as a referee, and to combat homophobia in football and Turkish society. Wasn’t that a great opportunity that the fans of Tebe and Roter Stern had provided for him? All of us at the FC United of Manchester Eccles & District branch wish him and all the Football Against Homophobia campaigners all the best in their struggles, and will being to look at ways in which we can support the campaign at our new home in Moston, Manchester.