Sydney has edged out Melbourne in the battle between rival cities for the gay soccer holy grail, the Justin Fashanu Cup.

The Sydney Rangers defeated home side the Melbourne Rovers on the weekend in a dramatic penalty shoot-out, with the final score 4 – 2.

The thrilling finale followed a hotly contested match between the challengers – meeting for the first time – where both teams failed to score.

Sydney Rangers coach Joseph Roppolo said the game marked a “new chapter in gay football” in Australia and humbly hailed the game as an overall win for gay soccer.

“Remembering the life and courage of Justin Fashanu, the only professional soccer player in the world to ever come out as an openly gay man and then tragically take his own life 18 months later,” Roppolo said.

The game was played at Kevin Bartlett Reserve, Richmond on Saturday, and good weather held on for most of play.
With the Rangers bronze medallists in the gay world cup, the local side was always in for tough competition and Sydney proved its experience counted at the critical moment.

The Rangers kept play tight, and were well organised on the field. They may have scored earlier in the game had the Melbourne Rovers not put up such an impressive defence.

After 90 minutes of play, neither side had scored and the match went into a penalty shoot-out.
Melbourne Rovers acting president Jason Asselin said he was pleased with the Melbourne team’s efforts.

“It was a dramatic finish to a great game,” Asselin said.

“It’s the first time we’ve competed against a gay team and Sydney has been around for a decade… it was a good debut.”

Roppolo said the vision now is to set up gay soccer teams in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
The Justin Fashanu Cup will be played twice a year. The next game is scheduled for March.

info: Those interested in setting up a soccer team can contact Gavin Mears at [email protected] to find out more.

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