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Supporter conference on homophobia

An international fans conference on homophobia in football is taking place in Manchester.

Organisers are calling on football bodies, government authorities and clubs to do more to tackle prejudice and exclusion in the sport across Europe.

Lou Englefield from the Football Fans v Homophobia conference, said: "The LGBT community has a large contingent of football supporters whose concerns on homophobia are often ignored.

"As the first major gathering of supporters on this issue, both LGBT and allies, this is a huge event for the LGBT community in football.

"It is fitting that it takes place on the day the most high profile league in world football kicks off its season."

Organisers hope the event will identify new ways of tackling homophobia in football, celebrate the involvement of gay and lesbian fans, and reinforce a zero tolerance message against discrimination.

Supporters from 29 European countries are expected to attend as well as Patrick Gasser, head of social responsibility at European football governing body Uefa, Dirk Middeldorf of the Queer Football Fans network in Germany, and Paul Amann of Liverpool FC LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender) Supporters club.

The conference will also discuss the hosting of the Winter Olympics next year in Sochi and the Fifa World Cup in 2018 also in Russia, after the country introduced new legislation making it illegal to give under-18s information about homosexuality.

The one-day conference is being organised by the international anti- discrimination network, Fare, and the UK- based Football v Homophobia (FvH) campaign in the run-up to Manchester's annual Gay Pride extravaganza next weekend.

Piara Powar, executive director of the Fare network, added: "Europe is becoming both more tolerant and intolerant at the same time, it is important that fans across Europe have the opportunity to show their support. We will focus on campaigning solutions and highlight successful initiatives to tackle exclusion in football."

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