FFA and star players back Bingham Cup

FFA CEO David Gallop will today be part of a delegation of Australian sports administrators to sign a commitment to eliminate homophobia in their respective sports.

Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop will today join with AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, ARU CEO Bill Pulver, NRL CEO Dave Smith and Cricket Australia-s Executive GM - Marketing, Digital Media & Communications, Ben Amarfio, to sign a commitment to eliminate homophobia in their respective sports.

They will commit to ensuring gay, lesbian and bisexual players, coaches, administrators and fans feel welcome.

This is the first time in the world that all the major professional sports in a country have collectively committed to tackling discrimination based on sexual orientation.

They were brought together by the organisers of Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, the world cup of gay rugby, as well as leaders of Australia-s first gay rugby union club, the Sydney Convicts.

The five sports will agree to implement policies and changes consistent with a newly created Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework, by the end of August, 2014. This is when thousands of international gay rugby players, fans and media arrive in Australia for The Bingham Cup, hosted by the Sydney Convicts.

David Gallop believes that due to football-s globally popularity and influence, FFA has a unique opportunity to show leadership in the community in regards to this important issue.

“‘Football is undoubtedly the most international of the football codes. We have a very diverse player and fan base here in Australia, with massive grassroots participation levels.

“In that broad and diverse context, FFA-s commitment to implement anti-homophobia policies will have a huge impact for good within our community,” concluded Gallop.

The Federal Minister and the sport leaders will be joined by a range of high-profile, past and present players including Sasa Ognenovski (Football), Sarah Walsh (Football), Nick Farr-Jones (Rugby), Greg Inglis (NRL), Matthew (Matty) Johns (NRL), Phil Davis (AFL), Mike Pyke (AFL), Nathan Lyon (Cricket) and Alex Blackwell (Cricket).

A 30-Second anti-homophobia ad will also be premiered at the event. It features the ‘who-s who- of Australian sporting stars, including Mitchell Johnson (Cricket), Ryan Harris (Cricket), Harry Kewell (Football), Alessandro Del Piero (Football), Paul Gallen (Rugby League), Nate Myles (Rugby League), David Pocock (Rugby Union), Lauren Jackson (Basketball), Nathan Jones (Australian Rules), Sam Mitchell (Australian Rules), Kim Green (Netball) and Libby Trickett (Swimming).

The Community Service Announcement was produced for Play by the Rules, an organisation that helps prevent discrimination and harassment in sport. It will be aired nationally this year on TV and at stadiums.

Andrew Purchas, President of the Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 and Founder of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club, said “Many gay, lesbian and bi-sexual people still stay in the closet or drop-out of sport altogether because of fear of discrimination.

At the same time, we have very few professional players who have felt safe enough to be open about their sexuality while active in professional sport and become role models to others. I hope that with these initiatives we will start seeing significant changes to sporting culture. The major professional sporting codes are committing to go well beyond simply banning homophobic vilification and discriminatory language.

These Australian sports are committing to creating encouraging and welcoming sporting environments for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, whether they participate as players, officials or supporters.”

One of Australia-s most respected sportsmen, Wallaby John Eales, has long supported efforts to make sport more welcoming for gay people. “I feel we have reached a turning point in our efforts to change sporting culture so that sexuality is no longer an issue,” said John Eales, who is a ‘Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 Ambassador.-

“It-s important to focus entirely on a person-s ability to play a sport and not get caught-up in old fashioned, clearly incorrect stereotypes and assumptions about people. I-m very proud of the five Australian sporting organisations for undertaking this commitment to make their sport more welcoming, safe and inclusive.”