The FA has announced it is to celebrate a significant new partnership with Stonewall, the UK’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality [LGBT], by hosting an historic fixture at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
The FA has invited Stonewall FC, Britain’s most successful LGBT football club, to play a Middlesex County Football League Division One fixture at the home of football on Friday 30 November. The match will be the first time a regular season non-league fixture has been hosted at the stadium and has been scheduled to celebrate The FA becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion and a new strategic partnership between the organisations.
Stonewall FC will take on Wilberforce Wanderers AFC in a top of the league clash, with the game set to take place during this year’s Rainbow Laces season – Stonewall’s campaign to help make sport everyone’s game. The game will kick-off at 7.45pm.
Following the release of The FA’s ‘In Pursuit of Progress’ plan – which is part of the organisation’s commitment to ensure the diversity of those leading and governing football better reflects those playing the game – the relationship with Stonewall will include becoming a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champion programme, part of a new strategic partnership with the charity to help create a game where everyone can be themselves. Stonewall will support The FA on key areas within participation, governance, workforce management, communications and embodiment across the game, demonstrating The FA’s commitment to embedding LGBT inclusion across current and future business plans and teams.
Other areas of the partnership delivery include creating an ‘Allies’ programme aimed at those involved in the national game who do not identify as LGBT and empowering them to support lesbian, gay, bi or trans people. The FA, with support from Stonewall, will be working to create an inclusive environment where LGBT people are able to thrive and perform at their best.
Finally, the partnership will see The FA and Stonewall collaborate closely in Marketing and Communications activity to embed the inclusion messaging, both internally and externally of the organisation.
Paul Elliott, Chair of The FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board [IAB], said: "This new relationship presents an opportunity for football to help change hearts and minds beyond the stadia, as well as ensuring that everyone who makes football happen feels included. Whether players, supporters, members of the vital volunteer workforce, employees of The FA, contract staff or anyone else connected to the game, no one should be left behind. The principle behind this partnership therefore embraces the philosophy that the game is for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
"The FA is extremely excited to mark this move by welcoming Stonewall FC to play under the lights at Wembley Stadium. This is the first time we have invited a non-league side to play a league fixture at the home of football and it is shaping up to be a truly iconic and memorable evening for everyone involved."
Stonewall Director of Sport, Kirsty Clarke, said: "It’s so important that we’re now working with The FA. We need everyone involved in the national game at every level of football, from the community to the elite, to feel included and welcome. To have Stonewall FC invited to play at Wembley is a symbolic demonstration by The FA and it sends a powerful message that LGBT people are a welcome part of the football family. We now want to see everyone who plays a part in football showing their support and helping celebrate this momentous occasion."
Stonewall Football Club Manager, Eric Najib Armanazi, said: "Stonewall FC is honoured and excited to be invited by The FA to play a home fixture at Wembley Stadium. This event is a landmark moment for all those who have worked tremendously hard to eradicate all forms of discrimination within football, including our sponsors TeamPride. We are delighted that Stonewall FC will be able to showcase our talent under the stadium’s famous arch. This game will mark the pinnacle in my 12 and a half years as manager of the Club and I am extremely thankful to all those involved that made this happen."