The football world is a bit brighter this Monday as the #RainbowLaces 2014 campaign kicks off. Paddy Power, in association with Stonewall UK, the Gay Football Supporters’ Network, Arsenal FC and Metro, among others, want to give homophobia in football the boot, with your help.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) September 5, 2014
Building on the success of last year’s inaugural campaign in which hundreds of pros laced up including Leighton Baines, Olivier Giroud and Joey Barton, alongside widespread support from politicians, pop-stars and actors including Ed Balls, Stephen Fry and Gary Lineker, players and fans are being urged to again show their support over the 13th/ 14th September – Rainbow Lace weekend.
You might have already seen this super Arsenal video. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and club captain Mikel Arteta launched the campaign with our high-profile TV ad designed to raise awareness of the issues around homophobia in football and lead the charge in changing the beautiful game.
If not, give your eyeballs a treat.
Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta said: “We’re very happy to support the campaign and whilst the advert is a light-hearted look at the things we can’t change, discrimination in football cannot be tolerated and we need to work together to change this.”
The reaction from football fans (not just Arsenal supporters) has been brilliant. Thank you, guys.
The Arsenal anti-homophobia advert makes me as proud of the players as any trophy win. — Pompidou (@RealMattLucas) September 6, 2014
— Cat Walker (@Cat_on_the_Mat) September 5, 2014
That’s the idea, Cat.
Among the 5000 professional footballers in the UK, not one of them is openly gay – a scenario that’s over a quadragintillion to one. Research from Stonewall shows seven in 10 football fans have heard or witnessed homophobia on the terraces and more than 40% believe football to be an anti-gay sport.
In a bid to help tackle these facts, rainbow-coloured boot laces have been dispatched to every single professional player in the UK, including youth and women’s teams, alongside deliveries to all MPs and leading political figures. Fans and grass-root players will be asked to tweet their support using the official hashtag: #rainbowlaces.
On Monday morning, the Metro newspaper in the UK features Rainbow Laces throughout its edition with some of the world’s biggest brands throwing their support behind it. Premier Inn (or Premier Out), Smirnoff and Virgin were just some of those on board…
…while Metro itself changed its masthead to reflect the organisation’s position.
The FA backs the campaign too. In a statement it said: “The FA is committed to equality and inclusion at every level of football. We work with a range of organisations that share this commitment, from Stonewall, Football v Homophobia, the Gay Football Supporters Network and Kick It Out. Our message, like that of the Rainbow Laces campaign, is simple; homophobia, like all forms of discrimination, is unacceptable.”
In 2013, the QPR midfielder Joey Barton was a key figure in getting the anti-homophobia message out there. He has given an interview to Metro this morning to reiterate his support for Rainbow Laces 2014.
Joey said: “I hope that more people join in this year: at the end of the day the more people that wear the laces, the more chance we have of raising awareness and tackling the issue of homophobia.”
Elsewhere, Arsenal Ladies have already laced up…
…while the ideas are flying on social media about who you want to get involved.
- Tweet your support for #RainbowLaces. Tweet players, clubs or your pals to encourage them to show we’ve got the balls to change the game.
- How to get Rainbow Laces: You can get Rainbow Laces at any Paddy Power Shop (shop locator here) or via Stonewall here
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said: “Last year’s Rainbow Laces was a great start but there’s still a long way to go to tackle homophobia both on and off the pitch. The clubs and players supporting the campaign and lacing up this weekend are taking a powerful stand against homophobia in our national game.”
Premier League Director of Policy Bill Bush said: “The Premier League welcomes initiatives like Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign that share our objectives of equality throughout the sport. Unfortunately discrimination still exists in society and we recognise football’s leadership role in educating participants at all levels that any form of discriminatory behaviour is not acceptable.”
Thomas Hitzlsperger, the only openly gay player to have played in the Premier League, said: “I’m proud to be working with Stonewall on the Rainbow Lace campaign. I want to show that being gay and a professional footballer is something that’s normal. The perceived contradiction between playing football, the man’s game, and being homosexual is nonsense.”