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Firefighters
allegedly refuse to play gay rugby team over HIV threat

Firefighters
allegedly refuse to play gay rugby team over HIV threat

The all-gay Gotham Knights rugby team won a quarterfinals match in an annual tournament in Queens, N.Y., last weekend--though not in the way they had wanted. The team's opponents--a team that includes members of the Fire Department of New York--forfeited the match, citing "concerns" about the HIV status of the Knights players. The Gotham Knights and Rock/B Fire rugby teams never took the field on Saturday for their scheduled quarterfinals match in the Rockaway Rugby Sevens Tournament, after a member of the Fire team allegedly asked the Knights whether they could guarantee that none of their players were HIV-positive. "He came up and said something like, 'I don't mean to be a jerk, but...' and then he asked if we could all confirm that we were not HIV-positive," Knights player Eric Merfalen told OutSports.com Tournament chairman John McCann has a slightly different account. He told OutSports that the team was "going to play, but Gotham gave the team notice that some players were HIV-positive after being asked." Either way, experts agree that the chances of a player contracting HIV through sport are miniscule. One 1998 study found only one possible transmission of HIV has ever occurred on the playing field of any sport, and even that has never been verified. A spokesman for FDNY told OutSports that the team was absolutely not acting in the name of the department. Jim Long told the site, "The department in no way would sanction or condone any discrimination of any person based on preference, race, or medical history." (Sirius/OutQ News)

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