The Sydney Rangers FC have responded to a discussion paper released by Football Federation Australia in July 2020. The paper proposed eleven principles to guide the federation's development and growth strategies for the future.  None of these principles addressed support and inclusion of LGBT+ people, something that Sydney Rangers took issue with and provided a response as part of FFA's call for feedback from stakeholders.

In order to not detract from their statement, it is reproduced below (originally from https://sydneyrangersfc.com.au/2020/08/03/srfc-response-to-ffas-xi-football-principles/)

“The Identity of Australian football has always reflected Australian culture – a glorious mash-up of backgrounds and diversity.Whilst we applaud FFA’s focus on diversity for gender, culture, community and background we were unable to find any mentions within the principles focusing on the LGBT+ community.

At a national and international level FFA must have a strong pro-LGBT+ stance, particularly when LGBT+ rights are being repealed across the world – many countries of which Australia faces in World Cup qualifiers and with the next World Cup being hosted in a nation with a poor record on LGBT+ rights. Australia should be a beacon of acceptance, diversity and exciting, multicultural football.At a more local level there are countless national and international studies documenting experiences LGBT+ players and fans face in sports, which alienates a large part of the community from playing and watching.

The LGBT+ community also suffers from larger numbers of mental health issues and higher numbers of suicide than the general community and sport is a great way to get people out into the community and build up strong and stable relationships and mental health.Back in April 2014 Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop signed up along with the four other major sporting codes to a statement of commitment to use an Anti-homophobia and Inclusion Framework to guide the sport on the development and implementation of policies and international best practises to eradicate homophobia from their sports. In the six years since this commitment was made we hope this framework has been put into place at the FFA and member clubs and look forward to engaging on what impact and progress you have seen.

Since the framework was announced in 2014 there continues to be homophobic incidents, such as the high profile homophobic RBB Graham Arnold banner in 2017, trolling on the recent 2020 FFA Facebook post on our team’s FFA Cup entry, to more indirect and direct comments and actions in community football.Whilst we’ve had periodic ad hoc engagement from FFA and some professional clubs (for example Sydney FC celebrated Mardi Gras in 2017 with a giant rainbowbanner on the pitch before the game providing a loud voice for LGBT+ support; in 2019 the FFA Diversity Manager supported the PFA Tournament in Melbourne) there is much more that can be done.

Much more is done in other sports and within soccer in other countries, with annual pride rounds, dedicated outreach staff and celebrations of local and national LGBT+ events and consistent structured frameworks. As an example, the Swans have marched in the parade for last three years but an invitation to FFA to join the Rangers and FlyingBats in the parade in 2020 (which was accepted by FFA) was ultimately met with no staff or playing volunteers.

If you google many of the most successful sporting organisations in the world alongside pride, rainbow or other LGBT+ words you will find countless interactions and engagements with our community, but the results are far more sparse in Australian soccer.For a club such as ours, it was extremely disappointing not to see LGBT+ issues mentioned at all in any of the 11 principles, and on behalf of our 100+ club members we seek a commitment to stamp out homophobia in soccer to be urgently included.

Stamping out homophobia requires a more dedicated, consistent and structured approach than what we’ve seen to date, to ensure progress is made to support often vulnerable members of society and encourage more fans and more participants in the beautiful game.”

TL:DR – what are we calling for?

  1. Ongoing engagement with the LGBT+ community from FFA, Football NSW and leading professional teams
  2. Strategy to promote diversity and inclusion in football, with the longer term aim of increasing participation and representation
  3. A strong pro-LGBT+ stance from governing bodies and strong action in response to homophobic incidents (online and in the community)

If you’d like to discuss our response, please get in touch with our President, Mark (president@sydneyrangersfc.com).

It's great to see clear leadership on inclusion from Sydney Rangers FC. There has been much speculation about the future of programs that support inclusiveness in the post-covid future. Many major sports organisations have cut teams that support inclusive programs at both a national and club level. Soccer has been at the forefront of many programs, including the much publicised Kick It Out campaign against racism. For Football Federation Australia to not underpin it's future growth strategy with inclusion of the LGBT community will be a major own goal, putting it's future as a leader in inclusion programs in doubt on both the national and world stage. We look forward to seeing the FFA's response and hope that the call to action and feedback that Sydney Rangers FC have presented gets considered and implemented.