Matt Bloomfield column: The fight against homophobia

By Matt BloomfieldWycombe Wanderers midfielder
Justin Fashanu
The Justin Foundation was set up in 2008, in memory of Justin Fashanu

Every so often in your life as a professional footballer you are presented with a chance to help make a difference to people's lives. I was lucky enough to be given this opportunity this week.

I was invited to attend the pre-launch event for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans (LGBT) History Month 2012 at the Oval cricket ground.

The invitation came about because, as the Professional Footballers' Association representative for Wycombe Wanderers, I signed the Government Charter for Action on behalf of the clubexternal-link to rid sport of homophobic and transphobic abuse. We were the first professional football club to do so and since then I am glad to say many others have followed.

I honestly did not realise at the time how much it meant to so many people for us to sign the charter, or indeed for us to then attend the launch event. I was truly taken back by the reaction of everyone at the event to our attendance and continued support of the charter.

Matt Bloomfield
Bloomfield signed the Charter for Action on Wycombe's behalf

Racial discrimination is an issue that has made a lot of headlines recently, and rightly so, because it is something that has no place in our game. The Show Racism The Red Card and Kick It Out campaigns, amongst others, have helped but unfortunately recent examples have shown that we haven't yet completely rid our game of racism.

Homophobic discrimination is maybe something that hasn't been given as much publicity, but hopefully that will start to change. I was lucky enough to meet the founder of The Justin Campaign, Jason Hall, at the LGBT event.

The Justin Campaign was founded in May 2008 in memory of Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay footballer who committed suicide in 1998.

They work all year round but focus their efforts on a week of action around the week of 19 February. We will be taking part in the campaign and we hope other clubs will take part as well.

Life as a footballer is a continual rollercoaster. The honour of attending the LGBT event followed on from a long weekend after our defeat against Bournemouth. It was a result that left us second bottom in the league and it's something that is hard to deal with.

I have lost count of the times I have been told not to get too high or too low, but it doesn't get any easier to deal with defeat, even after 260-odd professional appearances.

I also find myself in a foul mood if training has gone badly, or if my team loses in a five-a-side. My dad will take the brunt of my frustration in a phone call on the way home, or my fiancee will know that it's going to be a long evening at home.

It's a short career and you have to make the best of every opportunity that you have. You might not get that opportunity again. I am desperate to play as many games as I can this year, and help our club stay in League One.

We as players understand that promotion and relegation not only affects our careers, but everyone connected with the club.