United Kingdom

British footballers asked to wear rainbow laces in support of gay players

DAN LITTAUER [e]Special to LGBTQ Nation[m]

LONDON — Professional football players across Britain are being asked to wear rainbow-colored shoe laces at matches this weekend in support of a campaign to show support for gay footballers and to tackle homophobia in soccer.

rainbow-lacesStonewall UK, a British LGBT rights charity, with the support of bookmaker Paddy Power, have sent the rainbow laces to all football clubs in England and Scotland.

The “Right Behind Gay Footballers” campaign is focused on changing attitudes in football rather than urging players to come out, and wants players to wear the laces in games on September 21 and 22.

“It’s time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game,” said Stonewall deputy chief executive Laura Doughty.

“By wearing rainbow laces players will send a message of support to gay players and can begin to drag football into the 21st century,” she said.

A spokesman for Paddy Power said: “We love football but it needs a kick up the arse. In most other areas of life people can be open about their sexuality and it’s time for football to take a stand and show players it doesn’t matter what team they play for.”

Gay Football Supporter’s Network has commended the campaign, stating: “We’re delighted to see a high profile anti-homophobia in football campaign with backing from a major company.”

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“This campaign challenges people to say they don’t have a problem with openly gay football players and we can all work together to eradicate homophobia from the beautiful game,” the Network said, in a statement.

Currently there are no openly gay footballers in the English or Scottish professional leagues.

Former Leeds and United States winger Robbie Rogers retired in February, saying that as a gay man he could not have continued his career due to the football “pack mentality.”

He later reversed his decision to quit the game and signed with the LA Galaxy.

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