Stamping on the Chosen Few: Township Soccer in London.

// 1 September 2008

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Sport is continuously being assigned to a non-political space but no-one lives in a bubble – sports people or LGBTI people . The arrival in London of the Chosen Few (CF), a team of young out Black lesbians from the township of Soweto coming to play in the London 2008 IGLFA World Championships tournament, which is overwhelmingly dominated by white gay men, is very much a political event. An event in which the only other three lesbian teams have a total of three Black players, and where the CF are stomped and fouled upon with some outrageously poor and unprofessional refereeing.

A little background on the tournament: one of the fixtures of the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association which was started in 1980. The description of the games in London’s Pink Paper is somewhat misleading …………”Six continents fight for cup” – one team from the whole of Asia, one from Africa and two from South/Central America with a totally disproportionate number coming from North America and Europe is hardly representative of “six continents”! Nonetheless the championship, like most amateur sporting events and associations it has a laudable mission:

“to foster and augment the self respect of gay women and men throughout the world, and engender respect and understanding from the non-gay world, through the medium of football (soccer).”

But the IGLFA also needs to accept that there a huge amount of work to “engender respect and understanding” between LGBTI people. For example, acknowledging lesbophobia and racism as expressed by white gay men, as well as sexism and other prejudice in the non-gay world. The event claims to be a “World” tournament inclusive of lesbians and gay men. Yet no less than 95% of the participants were men, of whom 90% were white with only three teams from outside Europe and America – Japan, Mexico and Argentina. On the women’s side there were only five teams – the two CF teams from South Africa, one team from Chicago and two local London teams.

The hierarchies that exist everywhere do not just melt away in any context despite fine words. There is an assumption that these do not exist amongst the LGBTI people but they clearly do. This tournament played out those divisions and hierarchies. How can it be a “World Tournament” when many teams cannot afford to come, and if they could, are likely to be refused entry to the UK when they get here, or fear it will put them in danger back home? And where is the “level playing field” for those who do manage to participate when there is such a divergence in the support and welcome available to the teams – medical, diet, cost of food in the games tent and the cost of attending social events.

The Chosen Few (CF) came to the games having struggled to raise the travel, accommodation and living expenses.. But they faced more obstacles in their living conditions in London: lack of support facilities such as steam rooms, access to physio treatment and a proper diet (the team had been told that their hostel had a kitchen but on arrival this was not the case and they had to resort to 1 week diet of cheap fast food) and were finally reduced to one team due to injuries. Without acknowledging and tackling these disparities, this event will continue as a white male tournament with the participation of lesbians, particularly Black lesbians, reduced to tokenism.

The Chosen Few who arrived on the 22nd August for a week’s soccer, are all members of the Forum for the Empowerment of Women based in Johannesburg. The team is made up of young unemployed women from Soweto Township for whom football is a passion and membership of the team, an uplifting and supportive network of friends. The tournament began on Monday (26 August) with each of the CF teams playing 3 matches on both days. By the close of play on Tuesday evening the number of injured had reduced the two teams to one team with reserves. One of CFs two goalies was stomped on her fingers yet no penalty was given against the opposing team. She came back the next day and was stomped on again and only her determination and bravery enabled her to play in the semi-final on Friday. So bad were the stomping, kicking and fouling that one CF player requires an operation to her ankle, and may never play again, and another was told she needed an MRI scan before any further assessment could be made about the severity of her leg injury. Three other players had injuries needing further treatment.

The girl’s insurance will not cover the cost of medical treatment for their injuries. Due to lack of funds, their sports insurance is the bare minimum and covers only basic treatment here in UK – x-rays, bandages, pain killers- and nothing when they return to SA. So the situation is that there are five young women who cannot afford to pay for private care in SA (free health care is limited and poorly resourced) so are left with untended injuries which may well affect them for life. The words “disposable people” come to mind. Next year there will be another team as those injured permanently will be replaced by a new set of youngsters. They in turn will be sent into the lion’s den unknowingly only to be eaten up by mismanagement, racism, and a disregard for the general well being of amateur athletes by an international association which is part of world football in the name of FIFA.

Despite their injuries the CF team returned to play the final games of the tournament on Friday determined to win but this was not to be. A combination of totally unprofessional refereeing and ungame’womanship’ towards the CF resulted in the team losing the match to Hackney FC. As one impartial observer said the CF team had “lost the game even before they began”. Like a number of others, including the CF coach, she was so infuriated, she went to call for the organisers to come over to see what was going on but showed their disinterest by never bothering to turn up. Requests to have the match replayed with another referee were also denied. Although they had dreamed of taking the trophy back to Soweto, visibly biased refereeing left a sour taste in the mouths of the players.

Because of their sexuality and by their insistence on being proud out lesbians from South Africa, the Chosen Few are challenging the largely homophobic hetronormative society. To then come to an international event which claims to celebrate an LGBTI identity and foster harmony and then be further marginalised is disappointing and frustrating.

One would have thought that this would have been seen to be a fantastic opportunity for the LGBTI community in the UK to meet and hear directly from young lesbians from the townships about their lives and the situation generally in South Africa. Yet not one event was arranged by the tournament organisers to facilitate this. What did the two London teams do to welcome the teams from Soweto, except have the audacity to offer the very team that they had fouled and stomped a second hand football kit?

“We wanted to win and take the trophy back to South Africa. We are disappointed in not being able to do that but we are also angry and frustrated that the tournament was not conducted in an atmosphere of fair play and we believe racism played a part in the refereeing and fouling by some members of the opposing teams.”

If young vulnerable and relatively disadvantaged people are to be invited to international sporting events like the London 2008 G&L Championship then those responsible for organising the tournament need to make the appropriate provisions so they can play on a level playing field with other teams. Without addressing these issues, the organisers cannot defend themselves at best against disinterest and tokenism and at worst against the charge of racism.

Cross posted from Black Looks

Comments From You

spiralsheep // Posted 1 September 2008 at 9:22 pm

Thank you for drawing attention to this.

Tina Abbott // Posted 2 September 2008 at 6:27 am

I read this article with much interest having been a life long lover of football, a participant in the event (for HWFC) and for many years a (white) socialist, anti-aparthied activist, anti-racist activist and trade union activist. I was and still am thrilled that you were able to participate in the event and I think you played some beautiful and inspiring football at times. On another occasion you could have won the tournament, there was very little to separate the teams and certainly in the Hackney camp we felt that Chosen Few ‘A’ were the team to beat. I hope we will get to renew our rivalry again in future, in friendlier and happier cirmcumstances and I hope that out of this bad feeling between our two clubs that we can learn from each other and form closer ties and foster more understanding.

I agree with many of the points that you make such as : the unfair male domination of the event and the domination of the developed world and consequent under-representation of poorer nations and continents. I agree that the IGLFA should do more to raise awareness and give practical financial help towards living costs and to enable equal access to physios/medical treatment etc. I also agree that the IGLFA and the London clubs missed an important opportunity to raise awareness about the lives and oppression of your players and young black lesbians in South Africa and the wider African continent. I also think we could have done more as a club to welcome you to London and I’m sad we didn’t. I hope we get the opportunity again sometime to correct that mistake. For me, having your two teams at the tournament was the highlight and I was proud to have some of you sign my shirt after the tournament, inspite of the things I’m about to say.

As someone who hates racism but also hates cheating and fouling in football I have to say I completely disagree with almost everything you said on the subject of foul play. To say your article is one-sided on the subject of fouling is a complete understatement and I feel quite insulted by it. Firstly, just because someone is injured doesn’t mean there was a foul. Injuries happen all the time in football because it is a physical game and I know that the majority of our players are not dirty players but women who are competitive but fair. Secondly, I was only fouled twice in the entire tournament and on BOTH occasions they were very cynical fouls by YOUR players, one of which deliberately took my legs long after the ball had gone. Incidentally that foul contributed to an injury which eventually prevented me playing in the semi-final and meant I only played 15 minutes in the final, but I’m not bitter about it. I also witnessed other examples of foul play and cheating by some of your team mates including some very bad tackles and numerous DELIBERATE hand balls, none of which were punished with a yellow card, even the one where we were denied a clear goalscoring opportunity! I don’t hear you complaining about those refereeing decisions!?? As far as the match we won during the league stage was concerned I think the scoreline definitely flattered us and you were wronged by two bad decisions from the referee in that game. There should never have been a penalty given against you for a ‘push’ on me and I never appealed for one. I was making a diving header for the ball and I didn’t feel I was pushed at all. One of our other ‘goals’ that day didn’t look to me as though it fully crossed the line either, but the fact is we were still the better team in that game,we had more chances, scored a perfectly genuine goal and probably deserved to win. When we lost 4 v 2 to you a few days later I was one of the first to approach you afterwards to congratulate you on your deserved victory that day. You played much better than us and although we were disappointed in some of your team mates challenges on us and in some of the refereeing, we all felt that the best team had won on that occasion.

However, what you’re saying about the semi-final is very unfair on my team and my club (some of whose most popular players are black lesbians). The simple fact is that we played our best football of the entire tournament in that game, outplayed you from the start and were certainly no dirtier in our play than your team. Infact the worst tackle in all the games I either wached or took part in was by one of your players in that semi-final and she was lucky not to get a straight red card for it. Later, after your team accused the ref of being a racist she denied us a clear penalty when our striker was pulled back by her shirt in the penalty box. I suspect your storm of protests and accusations made the referee afraid to give us the penalty decision for fear of your teams’ reaction. I think your protests in that game were a massive over reaction and to us felt very unsporting. From our point of view you denied us ANY credit for what was a terrific performance by our players and it left a sour taste in our mouths despite the result and the acheivement of getting to the final. Again we had more chances, played the better football and deserved to win but you just blamed the referee. Even if the referee had been as bad as you claim (and she definitely wasn’t in that game) it doesn’t mean she’s a racist. Referees make bad decisions all the time. It’s almost as if you think you’re so much better than all the other teams that if you lose it can’t be your fault, it must be someone elses fault. The referee must be a racist! This does anti-racism a disservice.

I’m sorry to say this because I would like our clubs to become closer to each other but I think the air needs clearing. We are all lesbians, struggling to live our lives in a hostile world and although your players face more hostility, deprivation and prejudice we should be trying to support each other not squabble with each other and that’s what I would like to see in the future. Of course you were very disappointed to lose in the semi final, but the picture you have painted is that the only reason you didn’t win gold is because everyone else was against you; that the organisers are racists, that the referee was a racist and that my team were a bunch of violent thugs hell bent on winning at any cost. I’m sorry but if only you actually knew my team mates you’d know that that this is simply untrue.

Also although we live in the UK most of us struggle to make ends meet because of the high cost of living, especially housing, so none of us are rich and neither is the club itself. We are a non-profit club which can barely afford to cover it’s own expenses such as hiring pitches, hiring referees, hiring training facilities and paying for kit and basic equipment. So please, don’t be so quick to criticise. If my club offered you last seasons’ kit (which is in very good condition) then I’m sure it was meant as a friendly gesture. We are not Manchester United! In any case I was always taught that you should never look a ‘gift horse’ in the mouth.

Hope you all had safe journeys’ home and I’d love to keep in touch with many of you but please can we stop the exaggerated accusations and then maybe together we can begin to address some of the very genuine greivances that you rightly have. Best wishes, Tina x

sokari // Posted 2 September 2008 at 10:37 am

Tina @ I am not surprised at your comment as this is the response I expected from HFC .

I too am an experienced footballer so I am well aware of how injuries are caused and I unreservedly stand by my claims in this post. I am aware of the need for the impartiality of referees and for their relationships with players to be completely above board.

At least 3 non-partial observers from the tournament (there were not many as it wasnt exactly a “spectator tournament”) agreed with my perspective on how things played out in the tournament and in particularly the semi-final. In fact one of the people who went to complain to the organisers was a worker in the park who had been watching the women’s games and who came to tell us she had complained. Nonetheless I certainly don’t expect HFC to agree with those observations.

With regard to our team walking off the pitch – I did not personally support that but understood their frustration and persuaded them to return and complete the game despite the horrendous referring.

Your conclusions on how you and the organisers were painted “that the organisers are racists, that the referee was a racist and that my team were a bunch of violent thugs hell bent on winning at any cost.” is a distortion and exaggeration of what I have written. It is interesting to note that all our grievances are genuine except those that criticise HFC and the refereeing!

Finally on your offers of the kit – the players may be from SA but they are quite aware you are not MU. I find your comment “never look a gift horse in the face” insulting. All I can say it would have been better to offer something like friendship, solidarity and fair play from the beginning.

Mystery Dyke Squadron (Bombing Division) // Posted 2 September 2008 at 10:47 am

Frankly I don’t see the need for separate homosexual leagues for football until their are leagues solely inhabited by heterosexuals.

And if you imagine that there are few gays in the premiership as they’d have you believe then you truly are being a tad naive…

Zenobia // Posted 2 September 2008 at 12:17 pm

Yeah, because given the contents of this article it seems really likely that a team of lesbians from Soweto would be welcomed with open arms to the Premiereship, and won’t get beaten up by people who think it’s morally wrong to be non-British, let alone black, female, and lesbian.

Besides, the idea of such a football team seems so awesome, there doesn’t need to be a good reason for it to exist – it’s just a shame they meet with such opposition, particularly in a space that’s supposed to be all inclusive and tolerant.

Although maybe we’re seeing some of the problems related to ideas like ‘inclusion’ and ‘tolerance’. I mean, I would ‘include’ and ‘tolerate’ a slightly nasty rash, on the other hand, something I genuinely liked, I would welcome enthusiastically.

Tina Abbott // Posted 2 September 2008 at 3:31 pm

You say ‘It is interesting to note that all our grievances are genuine except those that criticise HFC and the refereeing!’

Sokari, that’s just not true. I’m not defending the refereeing and impartiality should be expected at all times. My reply to you pointed out numerous bad decisions on both sides, including in the semi final. I would say that you had more decisions go against you in the semi final but none of them were the big decisions. The free kick that led to our goal was definitely a free kick and as I’ve already said, you should have had a player sent off for a very dangerous challenge and we should have had a penalty. Our forward was blatantly pulled back by her shirt in the penalty box so that she couldn’t reach the ball and the referee was looking straight at it and didn’t give a penalty because tensions were already so high!

Also I explicitly agreed with some of your criticisms of HWFC, ie: that we could have done much more to raise awareness and to have welcomed you to London. So I do not claim that none of your criticisms of us are genuine or unfounded. But the notion that we are a dirty team who went about deliberately or recklessly injuring your players is untrue and unjust….and hypocritical as I know from my own experience in this tournament.

Sokari, Im not sure if you yourself actually want our solidarity or friendship because you sound like you just despise us anyway, but I hope some of your team mates do want our clubs to become closer. I do, but I’m not going to waste my time talking to you if you continue to treat us like we are cartoon villans and you are the squeaky clean hero. Perhaps you or someone else from Chosen Few could help us be more constructive and send me some links or suggest where we can get more information about your club and your struggles so that we can begin to learn from each other and forge closer ties of friendship. Regards, Tina (in a personal capacity)

sokari // Posted 2 September 2008 at 4:01 pm

Tina @ First I need to make it clear I am not FEW nor am I writing on their behalf. I am writing as a supporter of the CF and an observer of the tournament with the exception of Saturday. With all due respect there is nothing in my post that can be described as “despising HFC” and I really take issue with that and the general interpretation of this post in that way – it is simply not true.

“Perhaps you or someone else from Chosen Few could help us be more constructive and send me some links or suggest where we can get more information about your club and your struggles so that we can begin to learn from each other and forge closer ties of friendship. Regards, Tina (in a personal capacity)” Whilst this would have been better to have come during the tournament (“a missed opportunity” on the part of participants and organisers) it IS appreciated and I will pass it on to the team members and the organisation.

Tina Abbott // Posted 3 September 2008 at 4:01 am

Thankyou for making that clear Sokari and for passing on my request for information. I appreciate it, Tina

M E // Posted 11 September 2008 at 7:17 pm

Blogs are just that – one’s basic log of their own experiences.

Having said that, I am appalled that the CF were allowed to come back for another tournament. The IGLFA bends over backwards to welcome them. To PAY THEIR WAY to come and participate. It is high time that the IGLFA stop hosting this bunch of soccer heathens. They play unfairly, they are rude, they are BIASED and DISCRIMINATORY towards others, they are ungrateful and refuse to abide by the tournament rules in this and other tournaments. I have witnessed them in several tiournaments and the story is the same – IF THEY LOSE, THEY COMPLAIN. IF THEY WIN, THEY ARE HAPPY!

It is very ironic that they didn’t complain at all about foul play, referee bias or being treated unfairly on the several games they one. But on the 2 games they lost, they were totally rude, unacceptable and general bad sports toward the hosts of the tournament, the other players and the officials. RIDICULOUS! and sad…..

sokari // Posted 11 September 2008 at 8:05 pm

Wide off the mark, biased, discriminatory, patronizing – need I go on?

musuprtr // Posted 12 September 2008 at 1:00 am

Sokari, are you even reading the other contributors here? It’s almost like you have your thoughts, and are totally unaware that others saw a totally different set of events. Many futbol players and fans were there over the course of the week, and witnessed the opposite of which you wrote. They witnessed 2 teams from Africa that complained, took dives and faked injuries. How is it you didn’t see any of that?

sokari // Posted 12 September 2008 at 8:37 am

musuprtr @ I have written what I saw which is also what many others saw who I have spoken to (outside of the team themselves). I stand by what I am saying comfortable in the knowledge of what I saw.

musuprtr // Posted 12 September 2008 at 1:00 pm

Sokari, I find it so very interesting how you only see one side of this happening. An informed activist, as yourself, should be able to see all sides, and base her opinions/thoughts after considering the many variables and people involved. You typically rail against bias and discrimination, yet you are being very close-minded here, refusing to believe that the CF might have brought some of this on themselves. Their actions at the end of the week showed just that. They made nice with the very players, officials and tournament hosts that they so despised during the week-hoping to earn favours/gifts/drinks from them. They refused to show on time for the closing party, instead saying that the hosts didn’t give them enough money or time to be present. This whole thing sounds like sour grapes to me!

Sky // Posted 12 September 2008 at 2:05 pm

It is very sad that when we should all have built friendships and networks, we come back to broken hearts and insults.

I am not a player nor a football official but i was at the games and watched most matches from the women’s tournament.

After reading Sokari’s post and all the comments, i felt i needed to say my 2cents worth. I may not have felt that the referee during the semi-final match was racist but i did see a lot of favouritism for HFC. I understand when players throw tantrums and complain about referees because they are the ones playing and feeling th pressure, sometimes it’s misjudgments from the players themselves and other times it’s mistakes from match officials, and this is what football is all about…PASSION!

During the semi final match, it was sad to watch as the ref made one mistake after the other (whether intentionally or not). 2 people who have no relations to CF went to complain during the match and asked officials to go and watch the match but to no avail. Had someone bothered to come, that match wouldhave not taken the ugly turn that it did.

musuprtr’s comment:” They witnessed 2 teams from Africa that complained, took dives and faked injuries. How is it you didn’t see any of that?” How is it that yo came to this uninformed statement? One player who got an injury after a match with HFC returned to SA and was admitted to hospital with a broken ankle, as we speak her leg is in a cast. 4 other players who also got injuries from a match with HFC are currently undergoing physio treatment. It’s sad that you think they faked those injuries.

I’m not even sure if i should respond to this comment by ME because when i read it, Sokari’s statements about the organisers became true to me. “The IGLFA bends over backwards to welcome them. To PAY THEIR WAY to come and participate. It is high time that the IGLFA stop hosting this bunch of soccer heathens.”

Firstly, just because IGLFA paid for accommodation for the team in a HOSTEL, where sheets were never changed in the 10 days that the team was in London does not mean they paid CF’s way’. CF was sponsored by 3 donors and individuals who funded the whole trip and this includes flights, proper food, kit and other necessities while they are in London.

Your implications that when a team is part of a tournament through an outreach programme, they should SHUT UP and BE GRATEFUL and NOT COMPLAIN when an injustice has been done is classist and reeks of racism. Just because CF is from Africa and you paid for their bunk beds does not make them a charity case.

maybe next time an organiser invites CF they will remember that they are inviting a football team and not charity case or puppets that will sing and entertain all the other “non-outreach” teams.


sokari // Posted 12 September 2008 at 2:48 pm

musuprtr & ME @ This post was made based on my own observations of the games through the week. Your observations clearly do not agree with mine. This does not mean my observations are not objective. Nor does it mean I have not taken the “many variables” into account.

On the contrary I am very familiar with how things work in the UK and the tone expressed in both your comments is quite recognizable. You may not agree with my conclusions – that is your prerogative but the least you can do is respond to the issues I raise rather than what you have done, which is to descend into personal insults, racist assumptions and blatant untruths whilst hiding behind fake names.

You make claims such as injuries were faked. Make disparaging references to the team’s finances which only someone completely ignorant of the lives of others could possibly make. You attack the team for being sportswomanlike after the tournament and then make scurrilous claims they were looking for free gifts – where you in the minds of these women to know this? No this is based on your own racist assumptions about a team from Africa.

These comments made under anonymity have sunk to the level of spite and viciousness and are tainted with racism and can only embarrass and degrade those who you both purport to support.

Mia // Posted 12 September 2008 at 3:39 pm

Competition, women and fair play, should not be too much to ask as Sokari tries to do above. Drawing simply on the comments made by ME and MUSUPRTR, I can only wonder whether these two really have anything positive to say about what sokari offers above without resorting to personal attacks on her or those she represents.

Personally, I saw a devastating injury that rendered one of the visiting South African players “sidelined” for the rest of the competition and I don’t know if the Red Cross would take kindly on having their time wasted by “fake injuries” and Diving. How can that be described as a “fake injury”? Perhaps a little compassion will go a long way rather than such wild defences that sound more like a study in insecurity than anything borne of logical analysis. Where is the fair play in such belicose insults levelled at a team the comported itself throughout the turnament; injuries or not? Or worst, I was equally stunned to hear an official say to one of the home grown teams, “you’ve got the advantage to score! Go, go!” Is this what ME and MUSUPRTR view as competition and fair play? Can such biased officialdom be condoned while those that see it happen are hushed into silence for fear of being shouted down?

The language used against Sokari here is insensitive and, at times, it borders on what I will call, “blogger’s (or is that comment writer’s) colonialism!” Some friends have referred to ME and MUSUPRTR’s language as racist, sexist, and at other times, wantonly blown out of all proportion. Rather than abusing or seeking to brush some of the claims made above under the carpet wouldn’t it be better addressed by exploring some of these issues? Recently there was a piece in DIVA magazine about the oppression in the women’s game compared to that played by men can this be so unreasonable to suggest given gay men and their attitude to us womenfolk? One wonders what would have happened had DIVA’s editorial team waved that “suggestion” aside as “unfounded?” Thank goodness DIVA seems more level headed than some.

Finally, why the annonymity in the case of ME and MUSUPRTR? What’s wrong with having an opinion and having the courage to defend the comments made above instead of the verbal “shadow boxing”? A little integrity will go a long way to improve the women ‘s game as in competition and the notion of fair play.

Let us give fair play a try!!

Chris // Posted 23 September 2008 at 4:47 pm

As an organsier of the event, I was most saddened by the article. To have the Chosen Few attend was one of our ambitions from the start and it is sad to see that despite the friendships I made with the players over the week, the expereince was not positive for you all.

For a start I must point this out. Neither the IGLFA or the London 2008 committee are registered or in any way connected with FIFA. We are all amateurs and volunteers who donated our own free time to organise the event and not one of us receives any money for doing so. Yes of course we made mistakes and would have done things differently a second time, but these mistakes were not out of any malice. We did the best we could.

So suggest we are racist is insulting and possible even actionable in a court of law. We were delighted to award the outreach scheme to the Chosen Few and had hoped to bring over the Ugandan team as well. This was not tokenism, but a determination that our event would be open to all. We also invited teams from Mexico, the Czech Republic and Argentina.

The IGLFA tournament is growing every year, but it is still an amateur tournament run by players from amateur football.

I will not extensively comment on the games themselves, I was unable to watch them, but perhaps I will say this; no organiser should be asked to come and rule over a referee’s performance during a game, they are the qualified officials and once appointed they have to be respected. You must surely appreciate that the request for us to replace a referee mid way through a game was unacceptable and I did not come to watch the game as any form of interference or even the suggestion of it would have totally undermined the whole tournament.

I should point out that my team, the host team of Leftfooters lost every game, scoring just one goal all tournament while having two disallowed (including my own free kick). If there was any organised bias or wish for the home teams to win, this would not have been the case. Furthermore, team mates of mine include men AND women of ALL ethnic backgrounds, sporting abilities and phyiscal abilities (one of our goal keepers, a women, played in every game played despite having only one arm). To suggest we are racist and anti-lesbian is extremely hurtful.

I can speak more as to the organisation and will say this:

1. The tournament was open to EVERYONE to apply and to help those from financially pooer countries was the reason behind our Outreach scheme which your team benefitted from. Please understand though we are all volunteers and amateurs, our budget was tight and we just about broke even for the week. We worked for two and a half years to put the tournament on, all in our free time and again, none of us received a penny for doing so. We did the best we could. Similarly, the IGLFA is run by volunteers and does not have a big budget. FIFA would have been able to do better, but until they do, its up to the likes of us.

2. Participation – we were very disappointed that more teams did not register and to have so few women’s teams was our biggest failure. It wasn’t for the want of trying though, believe me and we hope that the IGLFA will be able to use our event as a springboard for getting more teams in future tournaments. We can’t comment about UK immigration rules as these are way beyond our sphere of influence, but we did discuss the tournament with immigration officials before hand. As for difficulties back home, this is EXACTLY why we put this tournament on in the first place, to provide a safe and tolerant environment free from discrimination. For some this might be the only chance they get and the fact that even now some people are unable to attend due to the political situation back home is the very reason why we must continue these tournaments and continue the struggle against homophobia worldwide.

3. Promotion – we accept that there was a wasted opportunity to discuss the situation in South Africa, but again, we made some efforts. The FA reception was hoped to be this oppotunity but the journalists who had promised to attend did not do so. All our efforts were focused on running the tournament, but I know that the players and supporters were inspired by your story.

4. Facilities – we gave you free accomodation and were not aware of lack of kitchen. Apologies. However, you had the same access to facilities as all the players. I accept that costs are high and that is why for the last 18 months the London teams held fundraisers to provide you with some spending money which we gave to your managers at the start of the week. We had two ambulances on site and an excellent first aid team and I personally reviewed the insurance documents and offered to help speak to the insurers on behalf of the injured players. This does not demonstrate a disinterest in the well being for amateur footballers.

One of the highlights of my week was signing the South African national anthem with you at The FA’s headquarters during their reception for you. I truly hope that the Chosen Few will attend future events and the IGLFA tournament can continue to grow, especially the women’s tournament and be an inspiration for all those who love football and value freedom and diversity.

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