Wembley Stadium shone in rainbow colours as Stonewall FC took on Wilberforce Wanderers AFC in an historic night at the national stadium to celebrate a new partnership between The FA and Stonewall.
Stonewall FC ran out eventual winners of the Middlesex County League Division One clash as the two sides competed under the rainbow lit arch. The fixture took place as part of this year’s Rainbow Laces season - Stonewall’s campaign to help make sport everyone’s game – and is believed to be the first time the stadium has ever hosted a regular season non-League fixture.
Played in front of over 1000 fans, Stonewall FC came from behind to triumph 3-1 with goals from Nasar Nakhli (27), Mike Sholly (77) and Ollie Rabie (90), a victory which sent them to the top of the table.
“Tonight was a landmark moment for all those who have worked so hard to eradicate discrimination in the game," said Stonewall boss Eric Najib Armanazi.
"It has been a wonderful evening for the club but also for sport as a whole. We would like to thank The FA and Stonewall for giving us the once in a lifetime opportunity at one of the world’s most famous stadiums. To be standing in the technical area here watching your team win is the pinnacle of any football manager’s career and for me it was no different.”
His opposite number, Chris White, echoed those sentiments and added: “We were absolutely honoured to be involved in the fixture. We’re clear that tonight wasn’t just about the three points up for grabs but more so the wider significance that this fixture will have in promoting inclusion and diversity in sport."
The new partnership between The FA and Stonewall sees the governing body become a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champion programme, just one element to help create a game where everyone can be themselves.
Stonewall will support The FA on key areas within participation, governance, workforce management, communications and embodiment across the game, demonstrating The FA’s commitment to embedding LGBT inclusion across current and future business plans and teams.
The partnership announcement follows the release of The FA’s ‘In Pursuit of Progress’ plan, which is part of the organisation’s commitment to ensure the diversity of those leading and governing football better reflects those playing the game.
Funke Awoderu, senior inclusion and diversity manager at the FA, said: "Tonight demonstrates our philosophy that the game is for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
"We are big advocates of the work that Stonewall FC are doing in football and wider society but I’d also like to pay tribute to Wilberforce Wanderers and the role they have played as allies in helping create a more inclusive environment for LGBT+ people in the sport.”
And Kirsty Clarke, Stonewall's director of sport, said: "Our mission is for everyone involved in the national game at every level of football, from the community to the elite, to feel included and welcome.
"To see Stonewall FC run out at Wembley this evening was inspiring and shows how far we have come. The fixture also sends a powerful message to LGBT people as it demonstrates that The FA are committed to working to ensure everyone is accepted within the football family.”