Words by Danny Brown
Fans in England, like myself, may have only vaguely heard of Viktor Fischer from his brief time playing on the wing at Middlesborough. A graduate of the Ajax’s famous Jong academy, the winger signed for Boro for £5 million in 2016 but his stay in the Premier League was a short and unremarkable one. It was barely headline news when he transferred to German club Mainz at the end of the 2016/17 season, following Middlesborough’s relegation.
Now back in his home country playing for FC København following another unsuccessful stint in Germany, Fischer has finally started to recapture the bright form that made Boro sign him from Ajax. With 14 goals in his first 31 games in the Danish capital, the 24-year-old has re-earned his place in the national side and looks to be going from strength-to-strength on the pitch. It’s off the pitch however, where the drama surrounding Fischer has occured.
Earlier this month, during København’s away win against Odense Boldklub, Fischer had anti-gay slurs shouted at him by sections of the home fans as their team was defeated 1-0 by Fischer’s side. Following the match, the winger didn’t remain quiet and was brave enough to call out the OB fans. Speaking after the game, he argued that homophobic chanting should be looked upon the same way racist chanting is. And he’s exactly right.
“Homophobia must not be accepted and should be looked upon the same way as racism. I hope that if the league don’t do anything about it, OB will. Some would say one should look the other way, but I chose not to. Now I hope this will enlighten people about the chants.”
Following his statements, Fischer was, rightly, met with a huge amount of support from fans, fellow players, politicians, and LGBT+ groups. Huddersfield Town’s Mathias Jørgensen gave his support to Fischer, claiming he had heard a whole stand at OB’s Odense Stadium singing homophobic chants towards him. OB of course, apologised for the chants and denounced any discrimination from their own fans.
But to show just how bad the problem is, Fischer was the victim of homophobic abuse again, just a day later. In a match he wasn’t even involved in, fans of København’s rivals, Brøndby IF, began singing anti-gay chants directed towards Fischer. In footage from the match, a large section of the fans can clearly be heard singing “Fischer, he is gay. Allez Allez.”
Brøndby of course denounced the homophobic chants after the match, but Fischer wasn’t willing to stop there. He did an interview with Danish TV network TV 2 Sport and again condemned the fans for the homophobic abuse, particularly and the use of “homosexual” as an insult:
“I experienced specific songs against me by name, saying I was homosexual. That’s not the problem at all. I don’t have anything against been called one thing or the other. In this case, the problem for me is the the word “homo” is used as an abusive curse. It’s a really bad culture for young people and everybody in general who come to a football stadium to watch football.
There is a culture in elite sports, that players should get used to these things and get on with it and be a strong athlete, but that’s not what this is a about. It’s about improving the culture at stadiums, it’s that homosexual should not now, not ever, be an abusive word, especially not in 2019, in Denmark.”
Fischer of course, isn’t gay but he’s spot-on when he says that is irrelevant and not what this is all about. Homosexuality is too often used as an insult in football, not just in Denmark but in countries all around Europe and it’s using such words in an abusive way that is completely unacceptable.
Spurred into action by Fischer’s comments, the Danish FA fined both Brøndby and OB 25,000 DKK (€3,000) – the first time any clubs in Denmark have been fined for homophobic chanting, with a warning that if any similar chanting is repeated, it would be met with another hefty fine.
Karma has a beautiful way of coming back to bite biggots in football, just look at the cases of Raheem Sterling and Moise Kean in recent months if you need examples, so of course that’s exactly what happened in the Derby between Copenhagen and Brøndby last weekend. Fischer scored the winning goal, giving Køpenhavn a 2-1 win over their rials and putting them on course to win the Superliga title.
Classy as ever, after the game Fischer claimed he heard no homophobic chants during the game and praised the Brøndby fans. However, in one incident during the match it was reported a Køpenhavn fan received abuse from a fellow FCK supporter after they took a rainbow flag to the game as a show support for Fischer.
After this game Fischer also addressed the impact of his original comments following the abuse at Brøndby: “I’ve seen and heard what’s happened on TV and radio, and that it has spread wider than just football and that’s great. I think that’s necessary among other things, so all I can do is be happy about it. I haven’t started a campaign, and it’s not me who’s the hero in this.”
While Fischer’s incredible actions have clearly had a massive impact in bringing attention to homophobia in Danish football, further incidents continue to occur, showing that there’s still a long way to go. Friday’s match between Køpenhavn and Midtylland was again marred by homophobic chanting, this time outside the ground after the game.
More education is clearly needed to stop discrimination in football and brave professionals like Fischer, Sterling and Kean speaking about their own experiences is just the first step needed towards dealing with the minority of people who ruin football for others. It goes to show that not all heroes wear capes, and that’s certainly what Fischer is.
I was inspired to write this article after seeing a thread on twitter from @navidjaan,so make sure you go and give him a follow.