Premier League football teams donned rainbow laces for games over the weekend as a display of solidarity against homophobia – and the response shows why it’s needed.
There are currently no openly gay players in the top tiers of English football
The last player to come out was Justin Fashanu, who came out in 1990 but died by suicide in 1998 after years of homophobic abuse and allegations of sexual assault.
A number of teams donned rainbow laces this week as part of the annual campaign from LGBT rights group Stonewall – with Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham, AFC Bournemouth and Hull City among those taking part.
The campaign shows support for lesbian, gay, bi and trans players and fans – and some of the reactions to the clubs showing their support on social media show exactly why it’s needed.
Below we catalogue some of the many homophobic responses.
Premier League Executive Chairman, Richard Scudamore, said: “The Premier League is all about exciting, passionate and unpredictable football that is for everyone, everywhere.
“The Rainbow Laces campaign complements the work clubs are doing to promote inclusion and diversity in their stadiums, and across all levels of the sport. Our support for the campaign, and the decision to become members of Team Pride, is further recognition that the LGBT community is a vital and integral part of our community.”
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: “The research we released earlier this year gave a clear indication of what needed to happen for sport to become more inclusive. research we made it clear that if things were going to change we would need the support from across sport. It’s crucial for organisations like the Premier League, the Football Association and the Rugby Premiership to show they welcome lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.
“At the moment, many LGBT people want to take part in sport, either as players or fans, but the abuse and hate from a minority of fans can make them feel unsafe, unwelcome or unable to be themselves.
“We know the majority of sports fans want a better, more inclusive game. This campaign is about encouraging people to step up and say they will not stand for abuse and the support of football and rugby clubs and associations is crucial because it gives people the confidence to do that.”