Gay Football Supporters Network

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GFSN logo
The Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) is an organisation originally set up to allow gay football supporters to get together, but now also supporting a national league of gay-friendly football teams. GFSN was founded in 1989, and began meeting at the former Salmon & Compass public house in Chapel Market, Islington; it later expanded into a truly national organisation. The GFSN divides the country up into "regions", with each region having a coordinator. This co-ordinater is responsible for arranging social events for members in that region, and members regularly meet to attend matches or simply watch a game at a local pub.

Football fans of different ages and genders meet regularly to discuss their favourite sport and talk. Each co-ordinator submits a monthly report on activities and social events, and these reports are then included in the network's monthly newsletter, which is posted to members.

Campaigning

As well as providing a forum for gay football supporters to meet, the GFSN also campaigns against anti-homosexual discrimination in support of the FA's "Football For All" programme. The FA encourages all clubs to endorse a gay-tolerant position, parallelling similar calls in the 1980s for clubs to support racial tolerance.

A monthly GFSN newsletter regularly features articles taken from the national press relating to the topic. The network has also featured in articles printed in The Independent, AXM and The Times.

Playing

Some members prefer to play rather than just watch, and around the country new football clubs have emerged as members come together to play. The two longest established teams still in existence are Leicester Wildecats FC and Village Manchester FC; both formed in 1996.

GFSN National League

Rivalries formed between a number of the members and their clubs, leading to the formation of the GFSN National 11-a-side League in 2002.

Four clubs initially entered the league: Bristol Panthers FC, Leftfooters FC, Yorkshire Terriers FC and Leicester Wildecats FC. The inaugural winners of this competition were the Bristol Panthers.

See GFSN National League for more details.

Tournaments

Five-a-side tournaments are hosted by clubs across the country, which are extremely popular events for teams and players to meet up and socialise. Leicester Wildecats and Yorkshire Terriers have held a 5-a-side tournament for the last 10 years. Bristol Panthers FC also held a tournament.

Leftfooters FC host an annual 11-a-side tournament in April at Regent's Park, which is also open to European teams. Recently, teams from France and Denmark have taken part.

GFSN National Tournament

Coinciding with the GFSN Annual General Meeting, a 5-a-side tournament is held with almost all the UK's gay teams taking part over a weekend in early June. It is the biggest and most anticipated event organised by the GFSN, enabling players and members to socialise over the weekend. A "host" city is chosen each year - voted for by GFSN members throughout the preceding autumn. The result is announced at the annual GFSN Christmas Dinner.

The tournament was dominated by the Leicester Wildecats FC for the first 6 years, but has since been claimed by Brighton Bandits and Yorkshire Terriers, who successfully defended their title in 2006. In 2005, the competition format was altered slightly. All teams initially compete together in a group stage, with the winners progressing to the knock-out phase of the main trophy. Teams that are knocked out of the main competition then transfer to the "Vase" trophy - a less prestigious (yet equally competitive) knock-out competition, with the winner claiming a trophy that is usually a cheap, rusting item bought from a local bric-a-brac store (to emphasise the lack of grandeur compared with the main tournament).

This change was introduced to give competing teams more opportunity to play football, instead of being knocked out early on in the tournament after a small number of games.

External links