A campaign addressing homophobia has invited footballers in England and Scotland to support gay footballers by wearing rainbow laces in their boots. 92 Premier League and Football League clubs, plus the 42 professional teams in Scotland, have been sent the laces by gay rights charity Stonewall and bookmaker, Paddy Power. The Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign wants players to wear the laces in games on 21 and 22 September. Its focus is on changing attitudes rather than urging players to come out.
Stonewall Deputy Chief Executive Laura Doughty said: “It’s time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game. That’s why we’re working with Paddy Power on this fun and simple campaign. By wearing rainbow laces players will send a message of support to gay players and can begin to drag football in to the 21st century.”
QPR midfielder Joey Barton, supporting the campaign, is appearing in promotional material and using Twitter, commenting: "Join the rainbow laces movement. Sexuality in sport should not be an issue in the 21st century."
As reported by Lustralboy before, former Leeds and United States winger Robbie Rogers announced he was gay earlier this year but only after retiring from the game, claiming he could not have continued his career because of the "pack mentality" that affects the way footballers behave. He later reversed his decision to quit the game and signed for LA Galaxy.
Before his revelation, only two footballers had publicly said they were gay. In 1990, Justin Fashanu, former England Under-21 international, became the first professional footballer in Britain to come out. He took his own life eight years later, aged 37. Swedish league player Anton Hysen, the son of former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen, also came out in an in 2011.
And just in case anyone out there doubts the pent up gay affections of ball players all over the world, enjoy this cheery compliation.
Lustralboy continues to lament the absence of "out" gay footballers, almost everywhere in the world. If the laces initiative makes any positive impact, it's to be welcomed as a step forward. Even though it's only a tiny step. See this related Sochi story for potentially a bigger one!
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