Anti-homophobia campaigners will achieve the rare feat of getting the heads of all major football codes to publicly unite behind a cause and have assembled a dazzling cast of sports stars as supporters.
The heavy hitters of Australian sports administration are all scheduled to attend a press conference in Sydney next Wednesday organised by officials of the Bingham Cup, which is also known as the Gay Rugby World Cup.
Attending are the chief executive officers of the four football codes – Bill Pulver (ARU), David Smith (NRL), Andrew Demetriou (AFL) and David Gallop (FFA) and Cricket Australia’s executive general manager, Ben Amarfio.
Organisers are claiming a world first in that all the the major, professional sports in a country collectively commit to tackling discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“It sends a very important message to the sports, to their supporters and their administrators that there’s no room for any homophobia in sport,” Bingham Cup chairman Andrew Purchas (Purchas) told AAP.
“They are signing a document and a commitment that their sports will implement anti-homophobia and inclusion policies by the time the Bingham Cup starts (in Sydney) in August of this year.”
Also attending will be a smattering of past and present sporting luminaries including Nick Farr-Jones (rugby), Greg Inglis and Matthew Johns (rugby league), Nathan Lyon (cricket), Mike Pyke (Australian rules) and Sasa Ognenovski and Sarah Walsh (football).
The list of high profile stars appearing in a supporting anti-homophobia TV community service announcement to be shown on the day reads like a who’s who of Australian sport.
The football codes are represented by Alessandro Del Piero and Harry Kewell (football) David Pocock (rugby union), Paul Gallen and Nate Myles (rugby league) and Sam Mitchell and Nathan Jones (Australian rules).
Stars from other sports include international basketball star, Lauren Jackson, Australian netball representative Kimberlee Green, Olympic swimming champion Libby Trickett and Test cricketing fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris.
Bingham Cup organisers initially approached the ARU last year and then challenged the other football codes to be inclusive and take an anti-homophobic stance.
“Our main focus was saying ‘let’s raise this issue above inter-code rivalry,” Purchas said.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised how willing they were to embrace it.”
By Adrian Warren, AAP
IMAGE: The Sydney Convicts gay rugby club pose with the Bigham Cup in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. Sydney has been announced as the host the Bingham Cup 2014, the World Cup of gay rugby.(AAP Image/Dean Lewins)