A-Leagues For All: Football and Pride Cup unite for Pride Celebration

In a celebration of diversity and inclusivity, the A-Leagues are holding a Pride Celebration from February 24-26 in Australia and March 4 in New Zealand, signifying the code’s ongoing commitment to making football accessible and inclusive for everyone.

Across the two weekends, fans are encouraged to get involved in the Pride Celebration, which builds on the success of the Pride Cup in 2022 and the wide-ranging programme of diversity and inclusion across the league.

A-Leagues CEO Danny Townsend says the Pride Celebration is another example of the league’s efforts to show that football is the most welcoming and inclusive sport.

“We began this journey with Pride Cup in 2021 and since then we have worked together to implement change for the better,” Townsend said. “Whilst we’re not at our end goal yet, we’re proud of the strides we’ve made to make our sport more welcoming and inclusive for our fans, players and staff and wider communities.

“The Pride Celebration is grounded in education, training and an ambition for long-term impact. We’re getting the foundations right to make positive change. This is certainly a long-term project, but we’re committed to ensuring every person involved with our game feels safe and included.”

Over the last 18-months, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have developed and delivered a series of initiatives, including a comprehensive training programme for players, staff and executives, a trial of a new stadium safety and inclusion programme with the Melbourne Olympic Parks Trust (MOPT) which is now being rolled out nationally, and the introduction of GoBubble technology to help silence online hate for clubs, players and fans.

As part of the Pride Celebration, $1 from every ticket sold in the Pride Zone for the Wellington Phoenix’s double-header at Sky Stadium on March 4 will be donated to a rainbow charity to help ensure all LGBTI+ people feel included, accepted, and proud to be who they are.

“The Pride movement is close to many fans and players’ hearts and we’re extremely proud to be celebrating the diversity of our players and fans through a new Pride Celebration in 2023,” Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) CEO Kate Gill said.

“We want to reduce discrimination, increase education, and improve everyone’s experience when playing our sport so they feel safe, included, and welcome.”

Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United men’s and women’s teams will compete in the ‘Pride Cup’ – the marquee game of the Pride Celebration – a doubleheader at AAMI Park with the men’s fixture kicking off at 3pm AEDT on February 26th, followed by the women at 6pm AEDT.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 30: Kayla Morrison of the Melbourne Victory, Isabel Hodgson of Adelaide United and Josh Brillante of the Melbourne Victory pose during a media opportunity launching the A-Leagues pride round at AAMI Park on January 30, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

Pride Cup CEO James Lolicato says the partnership with the A-Leagues is an important and powerful initiative to make football more inclusive for the LGBTI+ community.

“When you change sport, you change communities,” Lolicato said. “And with the outpouring of support from last season’s Pride Game, we’re excited to partner with A-Leagues for a Pride Celebration in 2023.

“75% of LGBTI+ people believe an openly gay spectator would not be very safe attending a sporting event. We want that statistic to change and ensure all LGBTI+ people have access to a safe and inclusive sporting environment.”

“Money raised from the round will go towards our work in continuing to educate the community and clubs on inclusivity and reducing discrimination. So far, our work with sporting clubs has been significant in reducing homophobic language and increasing understanding for the LGBTI+ community, which then ripples out to the wider community.

“We want to encourage everyone to come along to A-Leagues’ Pride Celebration and celebrate inclusion, diversity and football with us.”