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We'll Not Stop Campaigning Until Everyone Is Respectful Of LGBT Football Players And Fans

24/11/2016 16:38
Ben Hoskins - The FA via Getty Images

Earlier this year, Stonewall research revealed that 72% of sports fans have heard homophobic abuse at a game in the last five years. It also found that younger people are twice as likely to experience anti-LGBT language as harmless, dismissing it as 'banter'.

So, while this sort of language continues to be prevalent, its ramifications are simultaneously misunderstood.

Rainbow Laces is Stonewall's campaign to encourage fans, professionals, and players to show visible support for LGBT people and their participation in sport.

This week saw the campaign re-launch, now in its fourth year, with support from the Premier League, FA, English Football League, Premiership Rugby, and Rugby Football Union.

Clubs across the UK are getting stuck in on social media, and are expecting to make pledges of solidarity to the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community before, during and after weekend match fixtures.


We'll even see the Wembley Arch lit in rainbow colours on Saturday 26 November.

Despite strong support from these groups and individuals, the response to the campaign on social media from sports fans has been less than encouraging.

Confusion and disgust are among emotions with lines like, 'It's Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve!' being recycled throughout the internet.

Blatant homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia is just part of the problem. Based on the responses we've seen on Twitter alone, there is a feeling that football's support of inclusion represents a move toward it becoming "too political":

"Football should just concern football" has been a common response we've seen this morning, but what these fans don't understand is that Stonewall shares their exact same sentiment.

However, for so many fans, players and professionals, sport has become too exclusionary a place for people feeling able to just 'get on with the game'.

If football would "just concern football", then the Premier League's support for Rainbow Laces would garner no response, rather than lots of response than include hateful vitriol.

How are LGBT fans supposed to enjoy their favourite team winning a game, when the person sat behind them either in the terraces or in the local pub is shouting derogatory words into their ears?

Fans who want sport to just be about sport - we're with you.

But until everyone, everywhere is respectful and accepting of LGBT players and fans, this will not be possible. And our campaigning in sport will continue.

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