The Rainbow Laces Campaign is this week’s Closer Look @ Pinksixty Entertainment
Despite professional athletes coming out across the board in sports ranging from diving to rugby, soccer seems to be the last bastion of aggressive homophobia, with LGBT players staying firmly in the closet until after they retire.
English football player Justin Fashanu was the first to come out as gay while still in the game, back in 1990, killing his career and ultimately costing him his life to suicide – casting a long shadow that still prevents professional players coming out, even today.
Over two decades of silence followed, with no one willing to risk their careers or suffer the abuse of fans by coming out, until Swedish player, Anton Hysén came out in an interview with Offside Magazine in 2011.
“All I’ve heard from family & friends and all around the country is just really positive.”
In 2013, US player, Robbie Rogers came out while playing for Leeds United in the UK – and then duly retired, before returning to the sport a few months later to play for LA Galaxy – being feted by President Obama for his courage.
“You’ve also inspired a lot of folks, here and around the world and we’re very proud of you. So, where… where’s Robbie?”
Truck sounds its horn…
Over the past few years, football bosses have been actively engaged in supporting closeted players and coaching the fans on the terraces alongside advocacy group Stonewall to prime the sport ready for its first major league outing.
“We want the government to support high profile campaigns, like the Rainbow Laces campaign, to make sports everyone’s game.”
In 2017, Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign was launched, signing up all the English Premier League clubs and the Scottish League clubs in a show of unified support for equality and to fight homophobia.
“I can’t change that I look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.”
“I can’t change that I’m gorgeous.”
“But together, we can change the game. Players are lacing up to kick homophobia out of football. Use #rainbowlaces to get involved and show your support.”
The clubs changed their logos on social media to support the campaign and teams wore the distinct rainbow laces during games, which also saw Wembley Stadium lit up in rainbow colours and the FIFA 17 video game offered a rainbow kit to download for digital players.
team pride which coordinates the rainbow laces campaign is comprised of a consortium of 10 companies, including Sky Sports, Barclays, O2, eBay and Adidas and they sponsor the world’s most successful LGBT football squad, Stonewall FC, with funding from the sale of rainbow laces – which are close to topping 200,000 sales by the end of 2017.
With attitudes towards LGBT people in sport changing dramatically in recent years, it’s only a matter of time before football sees it’s first out gay professional player – with corporate sponsors champing at the bit to sign them up – a far cry from the days when coming out was professional suicide.
Well, that’s all from us for this week.
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