Football

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Ancient Greek football player balancing the ball; depicted on an Attic Lekythos
Football (Association Football, or Soccer) is a game that has been played for centuries in the UK, and has been likened to the ancient Greek game of Episkyros (Greek: ἐπίσκυρος). However the modern form of the game became standardised during the 19th century, particularly with the formation of the Football Association in 1863.

LGBT history

Lily Parr, known to be lesbian, was a professional footballer from 1917 onwards. At that time women's football teams competed against men's teams, but in 1921 the Football Association banned women from playing at any of its grounds, a rule that was only reversed in 1971. Another lesbian, Hope Powell, played for the England women's team in the 1990s, Melanie Garside-Wight has been a noted club player, and Andrea Worrall has played for Wales. The Lily Parr Exhibition Trophy, an international event, has been held on several occasions.

Justin Fashanu was a professional footballer from 1978, but suffered homophobic abuse after coming out in 1990. He committed suicide in 1998. Since then, no British professional footballer has felt able to come out while still playing, although the gay Liverpool-born Anton Hysén plays for a professional club in Sweden, and Robbie Rogers came out in 2013 after leaving British football. The Justin Campaign was founded in Justin Fashanu's memory in 2008, to campaign against homophobia in football. The Justin Fashanu Cup tournament was held in 2011, involving gay and non-gay teams, the Justin Fashanu All-stars was formed in 2009, and the Justin Campaign was involved in the formation of the international Football v Homophobia campaign.

Zander Murray, a Scottish footballer, came out as gay in 2022 [1]. At the time he was playing for Gala Fairydean Rovers. In December 2023 he announced that he would retire at the end of the season [2].

The first openly gay women's football team in Europe is Hackney Women's Football Club, founded in 1986 [3].

In 1978 the gay football referee Norman Redman started a gay team called Gaystars XI, but it was short-lived. From the 1990s onwards, a number of gay or gay-friendly football teams have been formed, starting with Stonewall FC in 1991. Aslie Pitter, one of the founders of Stonewall FC, later received an MBE for his work in combating homophobia.

The Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) was founded in 1989, and by 2002 there were enough gay teams for the GFSN National League to be formed, now comprising 15 of the leading clubs, in three divisions. There are now also regional leagues:

Several of the teams are members of the International Gay & Lesbian Football Association and have taken part in international tournaments.

Not all members of the various teams are necessarily gay, and several of them describe themselves as "gay friendly".

In November 2023 Luton Town were fined £120,000 by the Football Association for their fans' homophobic chants at Brighton n August 2023 [4].

In February 2024 the English Football League used a specially decorated rainbow flag football for matches played between 16-24 February [5]. [6].

For a list of past and present gay/gay-friendly teams, see Category:Football teams.

LGBT Football at http://lgbt-football.net/ has a list of international LGBT football competitions.

References

  1. https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/12702320/zander-murray-gala-fairydean-rovers-striker-was-living-in-fear-but-weight-is-off-his-shoulders-after-coming-out-as-gay
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-67771203
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-64663095 (accessed 20 February 2024)
  4. The FA issued the Hatters, who accepted a charge of misconduct in relation to crowd control, with a two-year action plan to improve fan behaviour. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/67513553 Accessed 6 Apr 2024)
  5. https://www.efl.com/news/2024/february/14/efl-and-puma-team-up-to-launch-football-s-first-ever-rainbow-ball/ (accessed 15 February 2024)
  6. The money raised by the rainbow ball initative will be utilised to support LGBTQ+ supporters and their projects which may include initiatives to raise awareness about inclusion in football, events promoting diversity, or providing resources for LGBTQ+ fans within the football community