Denmark takes stand to combat homophobia in football

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish football clubs, players and the authorities are to launch a series of initiatives aimed at combating homophobia in the game, they said in a joint statement on Friday.

The Danish Football Association (DBU), the Players Association and the Danish League are teaming up for a nationwide campaign to fight against anti-gay chanting and to improve behaviour in the dressing-room, on the pitch and on the terraces.

"Tolerance has always been a core value in football – as we have seen in the campaigns against racism. We are very pleased that we together can campaign against homophobia," Danish League CEO Claus Thomsen said.

Openly gay male players in Europe's top divisions are very rare, with former Aston Villa and VfB Stuttgart midfielder Thomas Hitzelsperger one of just a handful a players to come out in public.

"I do not understand how we can have a stadium of 25,000 people screaming homophobic or sexist slurs, and everyone just shakes their head," FC Copenhagen defender Mathias Joergensen told Reuters.

As well as Danish clubs taking part in Pride parades in Copenhagen and Aarhus this weekend, captains of top-flight sides will wear rainbow-coloured armbands and rainbow flags will be carried as the teams walk out onto the field.

There will also be a major event around Denmark's friendly against Germany on June 6, although no details have yet been announced.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor in Stockholm, editing by Neil Robinson)