Tomorrow, Adelaide United will host the first-ever Pride Game double header for its A-League Men’s and Women’s teams. 

It will be the first Pride Game in competition history and reflects a significant moment in the acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTI+ community in Australian football.

While there have been a handful of initiatives around LGBTI+ driven by players, clubs and the Leagues previously, this is the most noteworthy in the A-Leagues’ history. 

Adelaide has done a huge body of work with LGBTI+ inclusion organisation Pride Cup to ensure that the club and players are educated and can provide an accepting environment for LGBTI+ fans and communities on Saturday.

The incredible work Pride Cup CEO James Lolicato, the Adelaide United players and staff – led by CEO Nathan Kosmina – and the courage of the players, from Isabel Hodgson to Josh Cavallo, should be celebrated.

This week players have shared why this match is important to them and to the community and have embraced the opportunity to create change within our sport.

And here is why that’s so important.

While Australian sport is accepting of many communities and is a central part of our culture, participation levels within the LGBTI+ community are extremely low. Research provided by Pride Cup indicates that:

  • 80% of Australians have experienced or witnessed homophobia in sport, including slurs such as ‘faggot’ or ‘dyke’;
  • 75% believe openly gay spectators would not be safe at a sporting event;
  • A staggering 87% of young gay men and 75% of young gay women remain in the closet while playing sport;
  • Transgender and Gender Diverse Australians have some of the lowest rates of participation in sports due to the environment created.

Saturday’s Pride Game challenges homophobia and transphobia within sport and Adelaide will create an environment that is more welcoming for LGBTI+ fans, players and officials.

This is not simply a tokenistic gesture.  Pride Cup Games’ impact is significant, reducing homophobic language in sporting clubs by up to 40% when a Pride Cup event and education session is held.

As the PFA, we are also proud of the small but essential steps we have taken to ensure our sport, organisation, and members are more inclusive.

Prior to the A-Leagues season, the PFA worked with Pride Cup to deliver LGBTI+ training for staff, Player Development Managers and club staff within the APL, with James Lolicato.

Those meetings stimulated discussions within A-Leagues clubs about how they can create a more inclusive environment.

We have also worked with James to have Pride Cup LGBTI+ resources built into our soon to be released Players’ Journey platform to keep our members informed about the power of inclusion within our sport.

This week, the PFA became a member of the Welcome Here Project, which supports businesses and services throughout Australia to create and promote environments that are visibly welcoming and inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities.

We also acknowledge that these are only small steps in our sport’s journey to becoming truly inclusive and a safe environment for all.

The players and the PFA continue to commit to this journey of change for good.

Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill

PFA Co-Chief Executives