Awards

Jacob Leeks takes first prize at Football v Homophobia Awards

LGBTQ+ journalists honoured at Football v Homophobia Awards in FWA-sponsored category

“Humbling” to be named winner again, says Mirror Sport writer Jacob Leeks

by Jon Holmes, FWA national committee

Football reporters who are telling stories of importance to the LGBTQ+ community have again been recognised at a national awards event.

The Media category at the Football v Homophobia Awards attracted nominations from across the UK and abroad, and was sponsored for the first time by the Football Writers’ Association.
February is the annual Month of Action for the anti-discrimination FvH campaign, and the awards gala is now in its fifth year. After the announcement of shortlists in 11 categories, the 2024 winners were revealed in Manchester on Friday, February 23.

FWA national committee member Adam Crafton – who was shortlisted for ‘FvH Hero’ in 2022 for his outstanding reporting for The Athletic – was at the National Football Museum to make the presentations in the media category. And once again Jacobs Leeks of Mirror Sport was the winner.

BBC Sport journalist Emma Smith and STV reporter Ronnie Charters were both highly commended.

Smith, an FWA member, has consistently amplified LGBTQ+ voices in her work. Last summer, she was at the Women’s World Cup in Australia where she wrote profiles of tournament trailblazer Quinn and teenage Colombia star Linda Caicedo.

As one of very few out trans people working in UK sports media, regularly reporting on Premier League, WSL and other games, her visibility is particularly impactful.

Charters is a key member of the STV News at Six team, covering a range of sports.

In 2023, he reported on the ongoing social media challenges faced by Scotland’s only out gay male footballer, Zander Murray, and took part in an in-house ‘Expert Voices’ project which is helping the broadcaster connect more with diverse communities.

Taking first prize in the category for the second consecutive year was Mirror Football’s Jacob Leeks, who consistently shone a light on discrimination in football and tackled the controversial Jordan Henderson transfer to Saudi Arabia with a highly personal op-ed.

He described his success as “overwhelming”, saying: “A lot of people have put in an incredible amount of work over the last year, particularly Emma and Ronnie.

“So to win was a really humbling experience. The award is voted on by members of the LGBTQ+ community which makes it even more special and shows that reporting on these issues can have a real impact.

“The FvH Awards are so important because a lot of the work that gets recognised goes on behind the scenes. By bringing attention to that work, we also give people role models to look up to.

“This past year has felt like a constant battle for our community so to have a night of celebration with each other was special.”

The FWA’s support for the event sits alongside its partnership with industry network group Sports Media LGBT+.

Meanwhile, the dedicated ‘Unheard Voices’ category in the FWA Student Football Writer of the Year Awards provides a showcase opportunity for up-and-coming journalists from under-represented backgrounds, including those from the LGBTQ+ community.

The deadline for entries this year is April 2, with a substantial prize on offer for the winner.

Leeks explained that everyone working in the media industry can help to attract diverse talent and also ensure important topics are investigated.

“FWA members and others in football can certainly play their part,” he added.

“Please speak to and interview lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. There are groups who want to divide us so listen to our opinions and learn from us when we point out things that are wrong.

“LGBTQ+ issues shouldn’t just be left to LGBTQ+ people to report on. We need our straight allies to stand up and cover them, and call out hate.”

If you are interested in learning more about FvH or Sports Media LGBT+, please email jon@sportsmedialgbt.com.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Latest

To Top