- Football Pride Festival is an initiative of Football v Homophobia
- The event aims to connect the global LGBTIQ+ and ally football family
- Thirty hours of programming across a range of platforms will be available
At a time when many LGBTIQ+ football lovers are feeling isolated, Football Pride will today deliver a day of panel discussions, debates, quizzes, films and football fun.
The London-based event has been organised by Football v Homophobia, an international initiative that exists to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, at all levels of football.
Participants will be able to build their own menu of activities throughout the day, with a range of online platforms being utilised. Among the options on offer, across three virtual ‘stages’ and a Family Zone are:
- A coaching clinic with Rehanne Skinner, FA Women’s National Head Coach (U18-U21’s)
- ‘The Road to a Rainbow Stadium’ – Tottenham Hotspur discuss their LGBTQ+ fan engagement journey
- Live DJ sets, FIFA online tournament and quizzes.
- Interviews, panel discussions and film screenings
In the last decade, there has been a discernible growth in the formation of LGBTQ+ fan groups. However, discrimination, harassment and abuse still occurs in different regions of the world, preventing the achievement of a fully inclusive football movement.
We spoke to three groups, to learn more about their work, membership, and goals.
Proud Lilywhites have been the official Tottenham Hotspur LGBTQ+ Supporters Association since 2014. They have a growing global membership of over 650 and are arguably one of the biggest and most impactful LGBTQ+ fan groups in the world.
Proud Lilywhites’ key aim is to ensure a safe and welcoming space for all LGBTQ+ Spurs fans and staff, both at their new stadium and across all club touchpoints. In a first in England, they worked together with the club and the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation in the development of the job specification and recruitment of an “in club” LGBTQ+ coordinator.
During the Football Pride session on Saturday, co-founders Simon Gray and Chris Paouros will be joined by Levi Harris, Tottenham Hotspur Supporter Liaison Officer, to explore how they have forged a strong working relationship to make Spurs the exemplar of LGBTQ+ fan inclusion. There will also be contributions from Executive Director Donna-Maria Cullen, and club ambassador, Ledley King.
The former England and Spurs defender attended the Lilywhites’ launch and subsequent key events. Underlining how Tottenham Hotspur is committed to ensuring the club is inclusive for LGBTQ+ fans.
Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) Invicta FC (CIFC) was the first LGBTQ+ ‘friendly’ team to formally affiliate to a Professional Football Club Trust, in August 2017.
CIFC is made up of a mix of players from all backgounds including players that are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, asexual and allies. One of the fundamental aims of CIFC is to use the power of football to break down barriers, remove LGBTQ+ stereotypes and promote equality and inclusion for all.
CIFC sits within the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Department of the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT). It’s a key programme in their wider remit to tackle discrimination and inequality, and build community cohesion. CIFC is driven by a group of dedicated volunteers, led by Gary Ginnaw, Samuel Timms, and supported by Head of CACT EDI, Dr Michael Seeraj.
CIFC plays in the London Unity League, Gay Football Supporters Network National League and Kent FA Sunday Junior Trophy. They train, and play home matches at Charlton Athletic’s training ground, alongside other community teams.
Both Gary and Samuel are on the steering committee for Football Pride and will host a European Football Quiz with the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF).
They will also air a special screening of a short documentary titled Dare to Play, with a Q&A after the screening.
Villa and Proud, Aston Villa FC’s official LGBTQ+ supporter’s network was formed on 28 November 2018. They currently have 298 members, of which 61 per cent (181) identify as Allies of the LGBTQ+ community. This is vitally important, as allies are needed to support and actively challenge discrimination.
For the 117 members that identify as LGBTQ+, Villa and Proud creates a network for the under-represented to feel included, empowered and visible within the game. Both at Villa Park, as well as creating opportunities to represent AVFC at pride events.
Villa and Proud host a free annual seminar called ‘Empower Your Pride’. The event is aimed at bringing people from all backgrounds and organisations within the city of Birmingham together. They also run a 365 day a year campaign called ‘Villa Allies’.
Villa and Proud has a fantastic relationship with senior figures at Aston Villa FC which helps to build the platform for LGBTQ+ inclusion at a professional club. They have two ambassadors. The first being Thomas Hitzlsperger - a former Aston Villa FC legend who came out as openly gay after he retired from playing. The second is Natalie Haigh - a current Aston Villa Women’s player, recently promoted to the top league of English women’s football.
Villa and Proud will also be part of the virtual Football Pride Parade and supporting other events throughout the day.