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Footballers, rugby players and athletes unite in powerful displays of LGBT+ solidarity

Emily Chudy November 30, 2021
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Ilkay Guendogan of Manchester City wears a rainbow captain's armband for the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign

Ilkay Guendogan of Manchester City wears a rainbow captain's armband for the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign. (Manchester City FC via Getty)

Footballers, rugby players, jockeys and more have united for LGBT+ inclusion in sport for Stonewall’s annual Rainbow Laces campaign.

Over the weekend, players up and down the country donned rainbow laces and armbands to highlight LGBT+ inclusion.

Liverpool men’s manager Jurgen Klopp and women’s player Meikayla Moore discussed the Rainbow Laces campaign in a video for the teams’ LFC TV.

Moore said that as an “out and proud” footballer, she wanted to encourage others to speak out if they need help

“In women’s football, I’ve been very fortunate that being LGBTQ+ is not as unusual as in the men’s game. It’s very accepted and the community is very strong,” she said.

Klopp called himself a “perfect example” of how Rainbow Laces encourage awareness of LGBT+ rights in sports.

“I’m 54, I’ve been through a lot of periods in my life but a lot of problems I’ve never had,” he said.

He continued:”I have so many gay friends but I never thought about how it was when they had to say, ‘by the way, mum, dad’ – and to everyone else – ‘I’m not exactly how you expected, maybe’.

“That’s a challenge we shouldn’t face, in the way we face it in our life.”

Since the Rainbow Laces campaign launched in 2013, it has been adopted by sports from women’s basketball to wheelchair rugby, encouraging sports teams to show their support for LGBT+ equality, and to make sports more inclusive. 

Stonewall’s campaign began on Thursday (25 November) and will run until 12 December, this year with a Lace Up and Speak Up theme, encouraging athletes to support LGBT+ issues. 

Stonewall said in a statement: “Our iconic rainbow laces have become a symbol of inclusion across sport and fitness.

“Over a million of you have already worn the laces in support of LGBT+ inclusion.”

The England Rugby team has also come out in support of the campaign. 

Showing off rainbow laces woven into team members’ boots, the official England Rugby Twitter account wrote: “Everyone is welcome in our sport.”

“Proud to support the rainbow laces campaign,” it added.

Among the football teams to support the campaign is Chelsea FC women’s team, who said it was “proud” to support it.

“Continuing our ongoing commitment to ensure our club is a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ people and making it clear that football is for everyone,” the club said on Twitter. 

 

The Racing Foundation modified a photo to show support for the LGBT+ community in a tweet.

Though horse racers don’t wear laces on their boots, the foundation made sure to show its colours by photoshopping its jockeys into rainbow jackets and a helmet donned with the trans flag.

Liverpool FC announced that it is supporting the campaign, with midfielder Jordan Henderson saying it has “grown each season since it was first introduced”. 

“I can only really speak for myself when I say that it has made an impact in raising my own awareness on the subject.

“Each season when it comes around it makes me stop and think about how much further football in particular needs to go before the game can consider itself properly inclusive.

“Before I’m a footballer, I’m a parent, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend to the people in my life who matter so much to me. The idea that any of them would feel excluded from playing or attending a football match, simply for being and identifying as who they are, blows my mind.”

Henderson was praised for wearing rainbow laces to score in a 4-0 triumph over Ukraine during the Euro 2020 tournament.

Outside the rainbow laces campaign, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton also made headlines recently for donning a crash helmet coloured with the Progress Pride flag ahead of the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.

More: football, rainbow laces, Rugby, Stonewall

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