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Premier League Announce Partnership with Stonewall

  • Biggest names in sport come together for Summit on how to make sport everyone’s game 

  • Research reveals abuse against LGBT people isn’t just a problem for football but all sports

  • Speakers include Premier League’s Bill Bush, the FA’s Greg Clarke, Olympians Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh and British racing driver Danny Watts

The Premier League announced at TeamPride’s Rainbow Laces Summit a strategic partnership with Stonewall to tackle abuse against LGBT people in football.  

The initiative builds on the Rainbow Laces campaign which has been running of the past four years.

Football is well renowned for having a problem with homophobic language, and in the most recent research 72 per cent of fans say they have heard homophobic abuse at live games.

However, research conducted by ICM on behalf of Stonewall demonstrates that the problem isn’t just in football. Half of all sports fans (51 per cent) have seen or heard abuse against LGBT people at a live event.  

At the one-day summit on Monday (15 May), that fact was recognised, with a range of sports organisations coming together to discuss how they can make sport everyone’s game.

Attendees included the Rugby Football Union, British Cycling, the Wales Cricket Board, England Hockey, the Rugby Football League, the Rugby Players Association, the Youth Sports Trust and the English Football Association.

The event at Manchester United included workshops where key decision-makers and influencers from across sport shared best-practice and gained practical skills on how to make progress on LGBT equality.

Manchester United Group Manager Director Richard Arnold and Aon’s Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Phil Clement hosted a CEO lunch as part of the summit. Some of the biggest names in sport discussed measures their organisations can put in place to create environments where everyone feels welcome.

Olympic gold medal winner and international hockey professionals Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh joined professional British racing driver Danny Watts and British cyclist Callum Skinner for a discussion on what true acceptance looks like and why it’s important for teammates to show their support.

Greg Clarke from the Football Association also took part in a panel to discuss how to create an LGBT inclusive culture.

Executive Director of the Premier League Bill Bush, rugby player Keegan Hirst and Bournemouth photographer Sophie Cook were part of the closing discussion on why everyone needs to be involved in changing sport.

Staff from Sky Sports, Aviva and adidas are also attended the summit’s best-practice panels to provide insight on how and why they stepped up to support LGBT inclusion. 

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Rainbow Laces is about encouraging people to step up to say they won’t stand for abuse. People want to do that but they need the confidence. The more senior leaders we have in sport clearly stating that LGBT people are valued and equal, the more confident people will feel to do the same.’

The Summit was made possible by TeamPride, a coalition of organisations committed to making sport everyone’s game by encouraging fans, players, sports clubs and organisations to show their support of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.  The full list of members includes adidas, Aon, Aviva, Manchester United, O2, Pitch Marketing Group, the Premier League, Sky Sports and Visa.

The event is part of Stonewall’s ongoing campaign to make sport everyone’s game.