Banner boys get sign of approval from boffin

FOOTY fans are the wittiest people in the country, according to a leading academic.
Dr Jamie Cleland, a sports sociologist from Loughborough University, came to the conclusion after studying banners that followers of the beautiful game brought to matches.
“Angela Merkel Think’s We’re At Work’ displayed by Republic of Ireland fans at Euro 2012 after their country was bailed out by Germany is among several that caught his attention.
Now The Art of Banner Banter competition has been launched to encourage footy fans to showcase their talent by creating and sharing a banner with a chance of winning £5,000.
Dr Jamie Cleland said: “Many of the most well-known banners tap cleverly into the news agenda of the time. These banners have more of a cultural and social meaning, providing an opportunity for the creator to comment on topical issues in a sophisticated way.
“The fans creating these banners are often well-educated males who are on the cusp of a new stage of their lives.
“The act of creating the banners is naturally a very social occasion and getting together with a group of friends to create witty banners for display at sporting events allows them to express this mischievous edge to their character”
The competition is being run in conjunction with Tullamore D.E.W Whisky.
Entrants should take a picture of their carefully crafted banner and share on Twitter using the hashtag #bannerbanter.

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Gay footballers not an issue for fans, says report

THE attitude of football fans towards the presence of gay players has changed dramatically in the last 25 years, according to a Loughborough University academic.
Dr Jamie Cleland’s research has revealed that 93 per cent of fans say that a player’s on-field performance, not his sexuality, is the most important thing to them.
And that shows just one example of a cultural shift in attitudes since Justin Fashanu came out in 1990 and was ostracised by former team-mates, fans, the media and even his own brother John.
Dr Cleland has done three studies into homosexuality in football – an analysis of 3,500 fans’ views towards the presence of gay footballers with Professor Ellis Cashmore of Staffordshire University, an analysis of 2,500 posts surrounding homosexuality on fan message boards, and an analysis of the print media’s reaction to Anton Hysén coming out in March 2011.
Dr Cleland said: “The conclusion from all three studies is that the environment in football is a lot more inclusive towards sexuality than is being reported.
“It’s changed dramatically since the 1980s and 1990s, but there is always a vocal minority – and they are very vocal.”

Racism still rife in British football, says report

RACISM in British football is still rife despite the efforts of campaigners to stamp it out over the last 20 years, according to research.
Dr Jamie Cleland says that more than 80 per cent of fans who took part in his study said that racism was still endemic in British football, while half said they had experienced racism in the last two years.
He said football’s governing bodies, and anti-racist organisations like Kick It Out, have contributed to a culture of complacency and that racism has been ‘disregarded’ or ‘suppressed’ to ‘give the impression it had been eradicated’.
The study also says the fans want stronger leadership from the governing bodies like FIFA, UEFA and the FA and a ‘zero tolerance’ stance on racism with points deductions, bigger fines and life-bans introduced for supporters found guilty of a racist act.