Rainbow Shoelace Campaign Launched To Tackle Homophobia In English, Scottish Football
Every footballer in the English and Scottish football leagues "has been asked to wear rainbow-coloured bootlaces next weekend in an attempt to change attitudes towards homophobia in the game," according to Josh White of the LONDON TIMES. The tactic is part of the Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign, which "is designed to change attitudes in football rather than encouraging gay footballers to come out about their sexuality." Stonewall Deputy CEO Laura Doughty said, "It’s time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game. By wearing rainbow laces players will send a message of support to gay players and can begin to drag football into the 21st century" (LONDON TIMES, 9/16). REUTERS' Martyn Herman noted a report compiled earlier this year by Brighton and Hove Albion's Supporters' Club and the Gay Football Supporters' Network revealed that "homophobia is still rife." The coastal city of Brighton has one of Britain's largest gay communities, "leading to regular homophobic abuse from opposing fans during matches." The report said that Brighton fans "had been subjected to homophobic abuse at 70 percent of away fixtures." A statement from the Brighton Supporters' Club in April said, "Brighton fans have been the subject of 'banter' about the city's gay community for as long as many of our fans can remember. It wouldn't be described as 'banter' if the taunts and chants were about skin colour and something would have been done by now to stop it" (REUTERS, 9/16).
PLAYER SUPPORT: The PA reported Queens Park Rangers' Joey Barton "tweeted his support for the campaign." Barton wrote, "Show that people's sexuality shouldn't be an issue. Join the rainbow laces movement." There are "no known openly gay footballers in the English and Scottish professional leagues" (PA, 9/15).