Chelsea FC launches club for gay supporters
Premiership football club Chelsea has launched a new network for gay fans.
The club said it will assist a fan who is setting up a supporters’ network alongside the Gay Football Supporters Network.
Chelsea fan Ed Connell, a season-ticket holder at the club’s ground, set up the network.
He said: “I am immensely proud to see this happen. I have been campaigning against homophobia in football for the best part of 12 years and spent the first seven or eight feeling very frustrated trying to get people to realise there was an issue so for me to see these things happening is fantastic.
“As a season-ticket holder at Chelsea I am delighted to see the club support the creation of a LGBT fan group, making Chelsea LGBT fans feel truly welcome at the club they support.
“The fan groups differ from club to club but what we want to do here is set up a committee to run things and start welcoming members from near and far.
“We want to work with the club to help the local LGBT community and make LGBT fans feel welcome, as it is a game we all love dearly regardless of sexuality.”
The club, which is owned by billionaire Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, said in a statement: “Working closely with GFSN chairman and Chelsea season-ticket holder Ed Connell the club will assist with the formation of the group and offer support and assistance to ensure its growth.
“The club is proud of celebrating our diversity with our Building Bridges initiative working hard to fulfil the vision of a club and community which is welcoming to all, regardless of race, religion, sexuality or gender.”
No active premiership football player has come out as gay since Justin Fashanu, who killed himself in 1997.
Championship football team Queens Park Rangers recently launched a historic partnership with LGBT club London Titans FC.
As part of the “virtually unprecedented” deal, the Titans will “proudly” wear the QPR crest – and will get coaching help from the club, fundraising support, and a greater LGBT presence at QPR match days.
Meanwhile, Manchester United will welcome gay club Stonewall FC to their ground for a friendly match.