LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

EU Court addresses homophobic recruitment in football

On 25 April 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union, delivered its preliminary ruling in the case of Asociaţia Accept v Consiliul Naţional pentru Combaterea Discriminārii concerning public statement made by Mr Becali, a patron of SC Fotbal Club Steaua București SA, who categorically stated that he would never hire a homosexual player.

The Court reaffirmed the principle that it previously established in the case of Feryn in 2008 against a company in Belgium which made a public statement that it would not employ people of Moroccan origin.

This ruling is important because the Court made it clear that firstly, EU legislation provides for protection from discrimination in employment even before the actual recruitment process starts, and that, secondly, statements excluding particular groups are discriminatory and do not require an individual victim for the EU Employment Directive to be applicable.

ILGA-Europe welcomes this ruling as prejudice and discrimination particularly in football remains rife. Today in Europe, there are hardly any openly gay football players while homophobic chants remain common in European football fields.

Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair of the Executive Board of ILGA-Europe, said:
“This case needs to be taken as an opportunity by UEFA and national football associations in Europe to tackle homophobia and make the ‘beautiful game’ welcoming and open for everyone. ILGA-Europe would welcome the opportunity to work with UEFA to ensure their policies and practices are up to speed current European standards.”

She further added,

“Our latest Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of LGBTI People in Europe which will be launched on 16 May, will show that homophobia remains a serious concern during recruitment.”

Media release by the Court of Justice of the European Union

Full text of the preliminary ruling