This weekend saw support from all over the country for the Stonewall rainbow laces campaign. Players, clubs and officials came together in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by displaying the colours of LGBT pride.
Rainbow laces and captain’s armbands were worn by the players to spread the message behind Stonewall’s campaign. The Premier League also supported it by branding ball plinths, pitch flags and handshake boards with the rainbow colours.
The Premier League’s website displays a message of solidarity with the LGBT community stating: “The Premier League is all about exciting, passionate and unpredictable football that is for everyone, everywhere. We stand proud in promoting inclusion and diversity. This weekend we are supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign to encourage a shift in attitudes and public support for LGBT inclusion within our game.”
Homosexuality in football is something that has been long debated, and as of now there are no openly gay players in the professional game. Just last month the Football Association attempted to make contact with gay professional footballers by not one was willing to meet the organisations chairman, Greg Clarke, even in secret or anonymously.
Brighton and Hove Albion are a club whose supporters have suffered homophobic abuse more than most. The city is well known for having a substantial lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and the club therefore is often targeted. In 2013, Brighton’s Supporters Club submitted a dossier to the Football Association which documented the abuse they had received from other club’s fans.
Over the last few years clubs have seen supporters form LGBT groups. It started with Arsenal’s ‘Gay Gooners’ in 2013. There are now over 30 groups across the 92 Football League clubs, they include Norwich City’s ‘Proud Canaries’, Tottenham Hotspurs’ ‘Proud Lilywhites’ and Manchester City’s ‘Canal Street Blues’.
The Gay Gooners have received an endorsement from comedian Matt Lucas, and hang a banner from the stands at the Emirates, which displays the rainbow colours.
The support for Stonewall’s campaign is increasing year on year with 2017 having the most widespread support. But, as the first openly gay referee told the Telegraph, rainbow laces is a start, but big name players must do more to tackle the issue of homophobia in football.