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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 09:16 GMT
London hosts gay rugby world cup
rugby ball
The tournament commemorates one of the victims of 11 September
London is set to play host to this year's gay rugby world cup over the last holiday weekend in May.

The tournament, named the Bingham Cup, will be staged at Esher Rugby Football Club in south-west London.

It commemorates American gay rugby player Mark Kendall Bingham, who died on one of the planes hijacked by al-Qaeda on 11 September 2001.

More than 27 international teams will take part in the cup, which aims to break down prejudice in sport.

We welcome straight players but homophobes need not apply
Bingham Cup organisers
It is described as an international rugby competition "predominantly for gay and bisexual men" which does not bar straight players from taking part.

"It would be bizarre for us to put the same discrimination barriers in place - but in reverse.

"We welcome straight players, but homophobes need not apply," say organisers.

Mark Kendall Bingham played with the San Francisco Fog team prior to his death on 11 September.

Mayoral support

He is believed to have been one of the passengers who stormed the cockpit of Flight 93, overcoming the hijackers and bringing the plane down in Pennsylvania.

Teams from the USA, Canada, France, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand will take part, while London will be represented by the Kings Cross Steelers RFC.

Steelers' captain Peter Thompson, 27, admitted he had given up rugby before he found the team because of prejudice.

"I could not take my partner to the game. I could not be myself," he said.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the Metropolitan Police and the president of the Rugby Football Union are among those supporting the event, which was first staged in 2002 in San Francisco .

The ambassadors of Flight 93
05 Sep 03  |  Americas

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