A first in the battle for LGBTI equality in football

A first in the battle for LGBTI equality in football
A first in the battle for LGBTI equality in football

London Titans F.C. in action. Photo: Ben Hope

This Saturday, 16 December 2017, two LGBTI football teams will compete in a men’s Football Association affiliated football league game for the first time ever.

This is the Middlesex County Combination League – a mainstream soccer league for men, and consisting of 55 teams across five divisions.

The winner of the match between Stonewall FC Reserves and London Titans FC will collect three points and an improved placing in the league, but it’s also about a lot more than that. Both these teams represent their local LGBTI communities, and it’s believed to be the first time that two LGBTI teams will meet head-to-head in a league match of this nature.

“This is a monumental match for football…” said Phil Steer – manager of the London Titans. “Whilst Titans’ healthy rivalry with Stonewall has flourished through numerous friendly fixtures, as well as matches in national and international LGBTI tournaments, never before have we competed against each other in FA-affiliated football. Our teams share the same goal – to make football accessible for all, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“In the year in which we mark fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, legalisation of gay marriage in Germany and Australia, and the first openly gay Taoiseach in Ireland, another step forward for the LGBT community will be made this weekend…” added Ben Biggs, chairman of Stonewall F.C. “When the history of gay football is written, Saturday’s match between Stonewall FC Reserves and Titans FC will feature as the first game between two LGBT football clubs within the mainstream FA-affiliated umbrella.”

“Whilst we have made some fantastic strides in recent years to ensure football in Middlesex is a game for all, we realise there’s still lots of work to do…” explained Leigh O’Connor – chief executive of the Middlesex Football Association. “The LGBT community is a vital part of football in the county, so it’s important that we continue to work to kick homophobia out of the game and promote inclusion and diversity.”

“Much progress has been made in the twenty-six years since Stonewall FC were established as the only LGBT club in the UK. But we must remember that there is much progress still to be made…” acknowledged Ben Biggs, chairman of Stonewall F.C.

“This work starts at grassroots level…” added Leigh O’Connor – chief executive of the Middlesex Football Association. “So we’re incredibly proud of clubs like Stonewall and London Titans that are leading the charge and promoting the message of equality to those on the field. This is a historic moment for LGBT football and one which we hope will encourage more players, regardless of their sexual orientation, to get involved in the game.”

LGBTI football clubs in London

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