Stonewall’s work on football began in 2009 when we published ground-breaking YouGov polling into homophobia in football. Seven in ten football fans who’d attended a match had heard or witnessed homophobia on the terraces. Over half of fans thought the Football Association, Premier League and Football League weren’t doing enough to tackle anti-gay abuse. Three quarters of fans think there are gay players in the Premier League or Championship and yet there are no openly-gay players in the game. Poor show!
Read the full report here.
Sadly, since we published this research, very little has changed. It’s clear that homophobia in football is a tough nut to crack. We’ll keep working with organisations such as the FA, the Premier League, the Football League and the PFA to tackle the problem but we want to try something a bit different too.
Right Behind Gay Footballers
That’s why we teamed up with Paddy Power and directly with fans to make things better for players and supporters.
In September 2013 Paddy Power and Stonewall joined forces to send rainbow laces to every footballer across all 134 professional clubs in the UK. Why? So they could show their support for gay players. We challenged them to lace up during their matches on the weekend of 21 and 22 September. We hoped that this simple message of support would kick start something bigger and help drag football in to the 21st century.
Why did we think laces would make a difference? We know it might seem a bit odd but we will try anything to make the game a better place for gay players and fans.
Laces might not end homophobia but it’s not a bad place to start.
Over the course of a week tens of thousands of people including players, fans, sports journalists, sports presenters and politicians showed their support for the campaign and for gay players and fans. The message of the campaign spread far and wide with over 72,000 tweets about the campaign (using #RBGF) and a total reach of over 320,000,000 exposures across Twitter.
Numerous players, managers, fans, TV presenters and celebrities wore rainbow laces during the course of the week including QPR's Joey Barton, Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, Hull’s David Meyler, Everton’s Leighton Baines, Norwich’s Robert Snodgrass, Newcastle’s Mike Williamson, Stoke’s Eric Pieters, Reading's Sean Morrison, Burnley’s Euan Holden, Port Vale’s Louis Dodds, England Ladies superstars Toni Duggan and Eni Aluko, Gary Lineker and many many more.In total, players from across 52 clubs wore the rainbow laces.
The campaign clearly resonated with fans and players and the message of support for gay players has been heard far and wide. We are going to build on this momentum to kick homophobia out of football and all other sports.
Kicking homophobia out of sport is a big task. You can help us by making a donation to Stonewall.
For more information about our work to kick homophobia out of football drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org