Charlton Athletic is to help raise the profile of LGBTQ+ football by hosting its first Charlton vs Homophobia football tournament at The Valley.
A statement on the club’s website states: “The event will take place at 9am on Sunday, May 22nd, with three LGBTQ+ friendly teams taking part in a round-robin 11-a-side tournament. The three mixed-sex sides are:
Proud Valiants – the official Charlton Athletic supporters club for LGBTQ+ Fans and allies
Bexley Invicta FC – the only LGBTQ-friendly football team in south-east London and Kent
University of Greenwich – The University has an existing partnership with Charlton Athletic and is a Stonewall Top 100 Employer 2016
The tournament will be supported by Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT), the University of Greenwich, the Metro Centre, Kick it Out, Fans for Diversity and Football v Homophobia. CACT deliver a wide range of programmes designed to promote equality and tackle discrimination, including issues relating to identity, gender and prejudice.
The club are aiming to arrange more events, which will lead up to a dedicated match next February as part of the nationwide Football v Homophobia month of action. Charlton has a proud history of tolerance and understanding, and this is another way the club wants to support diversity and inclusion across the community.
Charlton Athletic Club Development Manager, Lisa Squires, said: “This is an important step for the club. What we are trying to show is the range of ways football can support the LGBTQ+ community. If you are a Charlton fan and want to join an LGBTQ+ fan group there is Proud Valiants. If you fancy playing football, there is a great set up supported by the Charlton Athletic Community Trust at Bexley Invicta FC. Equally, if you are someone needing guidance then the Community Trust or Proud Valiants are there to help signpost people to the best advice.”
Proud Valiants recently hosted their first ever social event with the support of Charlton Athletic and Fans for Diversity. The event, which saw the attendance of Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, took place at The Valley on Saturday, April 2nd following the Birmingham City game. A spokesperson for the Proud Valiants believes this an important milestone for LGBTQ+ football fans: “The Proud Valiants are very proud to be co-hosting this event with the club. Charlton is known as a pioneering community club, they were a frontrunner in fighting racism in the sport and we believe their ongoing commitment to both our supporters group and this event helps to challenge homophobia within football. It makes a clear statement that everybody no matter of class, racial heritage, sexuality or spiritual belief has the right to feel safe at The Valley and has the right to enjoy the greatest game of all.”
Bringing its experience and successes in developing and implementing LGBTQ+ equality, diversity and inclusion practices, the University of Greenwich LGBT+ Staff Network are pleased to be taking part in building on the existing partnership between the University and Charlton Athletic, contributing to the creation of new communities of interest with the common goal of tackling homophobia in football.
Gary Ginnaw, Player-Manager of Bexley Invicta FC, which has recently been developing an ongoing partnership with the CACT, added: “Everyone should be able to play football regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Bexley Invicta FC prides itself on being open to everyone – there is no prejudice.
“By teaming up with Charlton Athletic, CACT and Proud Valiants, we are showing that together we can fight homophobia in football and this collaboration will help to make great strides in this area. This is a very exciting and encouraging initiative.”
Anwar Uddin, Diversity and Campaigns Manager at the Football Supporters’ Federation, said: “Fans for Diversity is delighted to support this landmark tournament taking place at The Valley. The Fans for Diversity campaign, run in partnership by Kick it Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation, actively seeks to help people from all backgrounds to help develop equality in the stands and to make sure no one feels prejudiced when watching football. The tournament promises to be a fantastic event for everyone involved and a great way to celebrate our ongoing partnership.”
Lou Engleford who runs the Football v Homophobia campaign added: “It’s fantastic to have Charlton Athletic on board with the Football v Homophobia campaign and to see their commitment to making football accessible to all parts of the club’s diverse community. We are very grateful to the club and to Proud Valiants for their support and look forward to working with them in the coming season.”