Players from the English Premier League will wear Rainbow Laces during games the next two weekends to highlight the need for LGBTQ inclusion in the sport. What’s still missing is an openly gay player at the highest level of English soccer.
Now in its ninth year, the Rainbow Laces campaign has gotten support not only from the EPL, but from the English Football League and other levels of soccer, plus sports like rugby and cricket. Wearing the laces has become so uncontroversial that the EPL and individual teams are issuing news releases about the campaign.
From the EPL:
The Premier League and all 20 clubs will be demonstrating their ongoing support for LGBTQ+ inclusion by celebrating Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign over the next two match rounds.
All Premier League fixtures between 22 and 30 October will be dedicated to Rainbow Laces. Campaign support will be visible at every stadium and clubs will be demonstrating that football is everyone’s game in a variety of ways.
Rainbow-themed captain’s armbands will be worn while ball plinths, handshake boards and LED perimeter boards will also highlight important messages.
This year, the Premier League is encouraging fans to play their part by holding conversations about what we can all do to support LGBTQ+ people and help create environments where everyone feels welcome.
The League and clubs will highlight their year-round commitment to equality and inclusion, using their platforms to provoke discussion and demonstrate allyship.
A range of content will be published with men’s and women’s players and LGBTQ+ supporters’ groups, as well as highlighting the work conducted within communities to promote inclusion.
The campaign is awesome and raising awareness seems to have had an impact. Sky Sports says, “Over the last five years, the proportion of sport fans who think homophobic remarks in sport are acceptable has almost halved — from 25% in 2017 to 14% in 2022. This follows five years of dedicated campaigning by Stonewall and sporting bodies such as the Premier League, FA, Premiership Rugby and leading sponsors who are part of TeamPride.”
And yet, the biggest catalyst for change will be when an active EPL player comes out as gay. That hasn’t happened, though it has been encouraging in the past year to see players in other divisions and leagues such as Jake Daniels, Zander Murray and Josh Cavallo come out.