Saturday, January 08, 2011

A little more humility on the part of the BBC would not go amiss. In fact, had the Corporation seen fit to offer a full and unreserved apology for the 'Should homosexuals face execution?' debate, it might well have avoided the recent accusations of homophobia over the much less serious offence of a BBC news report on 28th December 2010. The BBC summarily dismissed concerns in a one sentence statement which was broadcast on Newswatch last night.

It would have been a simple matter for the BBC to have offered a sincere apology at the end of Newsnight on Thursday after a guest, Carmen Callil, referring to the Australian cricket team and responding to Kirsty's interjection, said "No, it’s not a feminine side, it’s sort of a poofter side, isn't it?"

Prejudice related to sexual orientation is a serious issue in sport, and homophobia is a significant reason why there are no openly gay football players in the main leagues. So it's disappointing to see macho and unsportsmanlike attitudes being promoted on BBC children's TV:

From yesterday's Newsround report on England winning The Ashes -

Ore Oduba: Oh yes, victory was ours. Take that, you Aussies. In your crying faces!

And last year the programme portrayed the England football team as donkeys, complete with braying sounds, after they'd been eliminated from the World Cup competition -

England World Cup team portrayed as donkeys
Newsround's portrayal of England team - 28 June 2010

Joe Tidy: (On 18 December 2010) Now if you didn't know yet, CBBC have a whole new football show starting in January next year. It's called Match of the Day Kickabout. It'll focus on all things footie, from your school team way up to the Premier League.

MOTD Kickabout began its run on CBBC this morning at 7.40am

Ore Oduba: ... If you wanna know about footie, Match of the Day Kickabout is the show for you. We've got the news, we've got all the action, we've got the biggest players, because here on MOTD Kickabout we wanna get right under the skin of what it means to be a true footie fan....

Studio guests on the first show were Dion Dublin and Ian Foster.

The show kicked off with discussion of the FA Cup third round. Dion predicted a 2 - nil win for Man U. Dan Walker gave us a preview of Football Focus. Neil Warnock chatted to Ore about his wishes for QPR. A comic 'interlude' introduced the MOTDK mascot, Max T. Monkey. Ore said Max could be going to a pitch near you.

The second half of MOTD Kickabout began with transfer talk, including David Beckham's move to Spurs. After that Jermaine Jenas showed viewers around his millionaire mansion which includes a swimming pool and a gym. Ricky Boleto tested Ore's football knowledge in the 'Outwit Ore' quiz, which ended the programme.

Racism was a widespread problem in UK football during the 1960's, 70's and 80's, but thankfully today it's a lot less common. Homophobia is a different matter though, and footballers are notoriously unwilling to be open about being gay. The Justin Campaign aims to change people's attitudes.

Last year we saw the first International Day against Homophobia in Football. It's held on 19 February each year. This year 19th February is a Saturday, which will mean that MOTD Kickabout will offer CBBC an ideal opportunity to discuss the problem of homophobia in sport. February also happens to be LGBT History Month, which is concentrating on sport in the run-up to the London Olympics 2012.

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