PLAYERS continued their efforts to kick stigma and abuse out of football as part of month-long campaign.

Sussex FA hosted two friendly matches at its headquarters at Culver Road in Lancing last weekend to coincide with the national Football v Homophobia campaign.

Referees, staff from sponsors and county players took part in the women’s and men’s matches against Brighton Lesbian and Gay Sports Society (Blagss).

The message from the fixtures was that the beautiful game should be for everyone.

Blagss men’s team captain Ciaran Melia was taking part in the annual game for the third time and has been involved with the team for four years.

The society has helped him and other players take part in matches and feel welcome, with many players often having faced abuse or stigma as youngsters.

He said: “Football v Homophobia is really important, our matches raise awareness of the campaign and it gets a lot of attention on social media.

“The match is a highlight on our calendar every year. I think it changed perceptions about gay football and standards, and broke some stereotypes.

“It can raise awareness for people who may not even think about homophobia and discrimination in football.

“Sometimes people can make comments to referees or opponents and not realise they are being homophobic. So hopefully this campaign lets people hear about it.

“Sussex County FA organised the matches really well and they were played in good spirit by everyone.”

Sussex County FA won the women’s game by six goals to nil, while Blagss won the men’s game by three goals to nil.

The association’s marketing manager Darren Ford said: “We highlighted our support for the Football v Homophobia (FvH) month of action with two friendly matches on Friday and Sunday evening.

“FvH is a campaign uniting fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the football authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in football.

“The matches themselves were both competitive encounters played in the true spirit of the occasions, with a win for each team – but the real winner was football and the FvH campaign.”

To find out more about LGBT sports in Brighton visit To find out more about the FvH campaign visit