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English soccer association to train LGBT referees

The English Football Association will train gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual referees in Kent, England, as part of its Opening Doors campaign to fight homophobia.

Stephanie Gadd, FA inclusion officer, said the training (to be held Nov. 17-18) is designed to help people who feel "anxious" about being involved in the sport due to a fear of prejudice.

"I think there is a degree of anxiety, perhaps a fear of reception in terms of how their teammates and the spectators deal with that. I think that's largely due to the culture that surrounds football."

Among those conducting the training is Dave Raval, who has been an openly gay soccer referee for 20 years. Raval praised the FA for its homophobia campaign started earlier this year as a recognition that the powers in the sport needed to take a stand. This referee training is another positive step.