The Mayor of London has said he is a strong backer of the 2008 International Gay and Lesbian Football Association World Championship being held in London later this year.
The championship became an issue in the election for Mayor yesterday when LGBT activist and Green party candidate Peter Tatchell attacked incumbent Ken Livingstone for reportedly declining to contribute to the funding and or sign a letter of support for a grant application to the lottery fund.
Londoners will elect a Mayor and the 25-member London Assembly on May 1st.
Mr Tatchell said: “It is scandalous that Ken Livingstone is organising billions of pounds for corporate mega events like the 2012 Olympics but can’t give a few thousand pounds to help host the gay football world championship.
“London is has won the honour of being the host city, yet the Mayor is refusing to support the event in any way. He’s giving no funding and won’t sign a letter of support for the lottery bid.”
London team Leftfooters FC won its bid to host the championship earlier last year after International Gay and Lesbian Football Assocation officials visited facilities at Regents Park.
In a statement to PinkNews.co.uk Mr Livingstone said:
“I am a strong supporter of Leftfooters FC’s bid to bring the Gay World Cup to London.
“My office have been involved in detailed discussions supporting the bid project from the very outset, and I provided a message of support for the successful bid.
“Officers gave the bid advice and support on the approach to funding, and also invited the organisers to submit a proposal for project support funding from City Hall, but this offer does not appear to have been taken up so far.”
Lib Dem candidate for Mayor, Brian Paddick, also criticsed Mr Livingstone.
“There is absolutely no excuse for the Mayor not to support the National Lottery bid, something that I more than happy to do but unless I am successful on 1 May, my political weight is nothing compared with the Mayor’s,” he told PinkNews.co.uk.
“As Mayor I would ensure that all communities in London are fairly and equitably supported. For the LGBT community to be treated like second class citizens is unacceptable.
Ken Livingstone did some positive things for the LGBT community in his first term but he has rested on his laurels since then.
“We need a Mayor who is committed to the LGBT community and maintains that commitment.”
The organisers of the gay World Cup said that they had approached the Mayor’s office for funding, and confirmed he had declined to sign up to the lottery bid, but added that they have other political support from Lib Dem MP Don Foster.
“This is not a deal-breaker and we are keen to concentrate on the tournament,” said Mikey Collins, chair of London 2008.
“We are grateful that Mr Tatchell has chosen to highlight funding for gay sports.
“We have 50 teams from all across the world coming to London and only four months to go.
“We are confident we will get funding.”
He added that the Lottery grant applied for is less than £10,000 out of an estimated budget of £70,000.
The additional money would be used to develop a legacy from the gay World Cup, including developing the Gay Football Supporter’s league.
London 2008 will take place in Regent’s Park, with competitive and recreational competitions for both male and female teams from all over the world, between 24th and 30th August 2008.
The final is due to take place at Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium.
For more details about London 2008, including how to volunteer, click here.
Full list of candidates for Mayor of London.
British National Party
UK Independence Party
Christian Peoples Alliance and Christian Party
The Left List
Stonewall will be holding a hustings event on Saturday 19th April attended by Left List candidate Lindsey German, Boris Johnson, Lib Dem Brian Paddick Green candidate Sian Berry and incumbent Mayor and Labour candidate Ken Livingstone.
The event is fully booked.