Sport has ‘Come Out For LGBT’ equality in the biggest show of support the Rainbow Laces campaign has ever seen.
In readiness for the week-long celebration, eBay were selling Rainbow Laces throughout November to help fans ‘come out’ in support of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in sport.
Already more than 100,000 laces have been sold.
eBay is the latest company to join TeamPride, a coalition of global organisations that help make Rainbow Laces happen.
TeamPride members include adidas, Aon, Aviva, eBay, Manchester United, O2, Premier League, Sky Sports and Visa.
Events kicked off on Friday 24 November and continue through to Sunday 3 December with activities across sport.
Some of the sports bodies taking part include British Basketball, the British Olympic Association (Team GB), British Cycling, England Hockey, England Rugby, the English Cricket Board, English Football League, Football Association, Great British Wheelchair Rugby, Premier League, Premiership Rugby, Professional Football Association, Rugby Football League, Scottish Professional Football Association, UK Athletics, Welsh Football Association and Welsh Rugby.
On Wednesday 29 November fans across all sports laced up in a mass show of solidarity for LGBT people in sport. According to Stonewall research, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of sports fans said more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport.
Premier League activities started with West Ham United hosting Leicester City on Friday 24 November, and ended with Manchester City’s game with Huddersfield Town on Sunday 26 November.
As well as the captain’s armbands and rainbow laces that appeared in last year’s fixtures, the Premier League will this year introduce bespoke rainbow branding to its ball plinths, pitch flags and handshake boards. Timing board will also be given a rainbow makeover.
Many of England Hockey’s Premier teams and the umpires will be lacing up and wearing the armbands over the opening weekend of the campaign.
British Basketball are not only wearing laces, they’ll also be training with rainbow balls.
Off the pitch, many of the sports organisations and bodies will change their social media profiles to reflect the Rainbow Laces campaigns, as well as sending messages of support to their followers.
Every fixture for the English Football League, Premier League, Aviva Premiership Rugby and the Scotland Premier Football League over the November weekend will feature Rainbow Laces.
Activities include teams wearing Rainbow Laces during training, laces being handed out throughout the week’s fixtures and clubs organising meetings between LGBT fan groups.
The Wembley Arch will be lit up in rainbow colours and the Professional Game Match Officials are also joining in across Premier League, English Football League, Premier League and Premiership Rugby, with referees lacing up for key matches.
Ryan Atkin, the first professional referee to speak openly about being gay, said: ‘Rainbow Laces is the building block to creating a sport that’s for all. It’s great that the Premier League and the EFL are fully supportive and leading the way using their own initiatives like rainbow corner flags.
We need to work together to make football and sport inclusive of all. When you change your mind, you will change the game.’
‘You don’t have to be LGBT to be a supporter of the campaign, in fact allies within the sport are more crucial than ever. I hope this campaign sees more sport stars, staff and fans publicly support LGBT people and that they make clear that homophobia and abusive comments are not acceptable. However, wearing rainbow laces for a game is not enough. If you are going to wear them, be willing to speak publicly about your support and call out abuse. We need to work together to make football and sport inclusive of all. When you change your mind, you will change the game.’
Chris Gardner, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at eBay, said: ‘At eBay we’re proud to celebrate diversity. We are delighted that we are the official site for people to buy Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces and look forward to working closely with them as part of TeamPride to support and celebrate LGBT inclusion in sport.’
Phil Clement, Aon, said: ’Aon is proud to be a part of TeamPride and I firmly believe the group holds an enormous ability to influence the sports industry. There is still much more we need to do before all LGBT people can live freely as themselves. Sport unites us all and TeamPride and Stonewall are committed to making sport everyone’s game by raising awareness of these issues this November.’
Ian Cafferky, Director of Brand and Marcomms at O2, said: ‘At O2 we recognise the importance of having a diverse, balanced and inclusive workforce, where everyone is free to be themselves. To serve our 25 million customers best, it’s vital that our workforce reflects and understands them. That’s why we’re proud to be part of TeamPride and the Rainbow Laces campaign to not just change attitudes on the sports field, but off it too.’
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said: ‘Having so much support for our Rainbow Laces campaign is amazing to see. It’s shows that people understand that creating inclusive sporting environments is everyone’s responsibility and that making sport everyone’s game can’t rest on the shoulders of LGBT people alone.
Putting on a pair of laces may seem like a small act, but for someone who is LGBT it is a powerful sign of acceptance.‘
‘We’re also thrilled to see so many local clubs signing up to this year’s campaign. We want anyone and everyone who wants to take part in sport – in whatever sport – to feel they can, whether that’s at a professional level or at a local kickabout.
‘We now want to see fans getting involved and coming out to proudly show their support. Putting on a pair of laces may seem like a small act, but for someone who is LGBT it is a powerful sign of acceptance.‘