Rainbow Laces: Premier League, EFL and Premiership Rugby launch 2021 activation of LGBTQ + inclusion in sports campaign | Football news

“Lace Up and Speak Up” is the key message of this year’s annual activation of the Rainbow Laces Campaign for LGBTQ + Inclusion in Sport.

The Premier League and EFL will be among the competitions that launch a visible show of support this weekend, with coverage through Sky Sports.

With a new look and direction, the campaign’s central call to action is for athletes, coaches, officials and fans to wear laces while contributing to the conversations that help ensure that lesbians, gay, bi and trans feel welcome and at ease in their sports spaces and environments.

FA Wales took advantage of the recent Men’s World Cup qualifier against Belgium in Cardiff as an opportunity to activate Rainbow Laces

Research conducted last year by the ICM for Stonewall, the equality charity that coordinates Rainbow Laces, showed that one in five sports fans still think anti-LGBTQ + language is harmless if it these are just « jokes ».

However, the campaign continues to make a significant difference. The same 2020 survey showed that two-thirds of sports fans who saw Rainbow Laces believe they have a responsibility to stand up for LGBTQ + fans for the teams and sports they follow – an increase from the previous statistic .

12 million people get involved in the initiative every year, either by wearing laces, via social media, or by organizing events. In addition to a range of different lace designs, there are also badges with the new logo, headbands and captain’s armbands.

READING, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Manchester United's Leah Galton wears rainbow laces in her hair during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Reading Women and Manchester United Women at Madejski Stadium on December 13, 2020 in Reading , in England.  (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse / Getty Images)
WSL clubs will show their support for LGBTQ + people during their games in December – in 2020 Manchester United’s Leah Galton wore laces in her hair!

During the pride celebrations in the summer, England skipper Harry Kane and teammate Jordan Henderson were among the players to demonstrate their alliance at Euro 2020.

Since then, a combined number of over 200 LGBTQ + athletes have competed in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, while Josh Cavallo’s coming out story made headlines around the world in October and generated thousands of responses. welcoming, especially from famous football figures like Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Just last weekend, seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton made a powerful statement en route to victory in the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix wearing a rainbow-colored helmet. sky bearing the slogan “We Stand Together”.

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Lewis Hamilton explains why he wore a helmet in the colors of the Progress Pride flag at the Qatar Grand Prix last weekend

Stonewall’s director of programs Liz Ward is encouraged by the progress made in sports inclusion in 2021, but says there are lingering concerns as well.

A recent study found that across Europe, eight in ten (82 percent) LGBTQ + people active in sport witnessed homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the past 12 months.

“Few things bring us together as much as sports, fitness and physical activity,” says Ward, “and it’s inspiring to see so many people, clubs, leagues, gyms and partners come together for Rainbow Laces season. Since the start of the campaign, we’ve seen the notoriety grow and grow, with over a million laces modeled in boots across the world.

“But there is still a long way to go before every lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer person can devote themselves entirely to the sport they love.

“That’s why this year, we want Rainbow Laces to take inclusion to the next level and start a conversation about what it really means to create inclusive environments for LGBTQ + people in sport.

“Whether you are a team, an athlete, a fan or a player, your voice makes the difference. Together, we urge people to get involved and speak out for LGBTQ + inclusion, and to make sport everyone’s game. « 

Fans rainbow flag outside during the Sky Bet League 2 match between Leyton Orient and Sutton United at Matchroom Stadium in London on Saturday November 20, 2021. (Photo by Ivan Yordanov / MI News / NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Newcomers to EFL Sutton United are one of more than 50 clubs in the English leagues to have their own group of LGBTQ + supporters

Rainbow Dart Flights and Wembley Lights

Since 2016, Sky Sports has been a member of TeamPride – a coalition of organizations working with Stonewall to scale up the Rainbow Laces campaign. The Premier League, Barclays, Coca-Cola, adidas, TikTok, Unilever and Voltarol are also helping to spread the word this year.

Steve Smith, Executive Director of Content at Sky Sports, said, “We are passionate about delivering sports drama live and telling stories about the people who make the moments happen.

“We continue to proudly support Rainbow Laces as a member of Team Pride, raising awareness of LGBTQ + inclusion on and off the pitch and encouraging active alliances. « 

In addition, the list of Stonewall Sport Champions who serve as campaign ambassadors has been expanded. UFC fighter Molly McCann, England Roses netball internationals Stacey Francis-Bayman and Natalie Panagarry and rugby player Devin Ibanez will join the squad in 2021.

Charlie Martin Rainbow Laces 2021
Racing driver Charlie Martin is part of Stonewall Sport’s group of 17 champions

The 20 Premier League matches taking place between Saturday 27 November and Thursday 2 December will be dedicated to the Rainbow Laces. Clubs will show their support through a variety of match day activities, with branding visible in each stadium and video content featuring discussions between male and female players, as well as members of LGBTQ + fan groups, emphasizing the power of meaningful conversation and alliance.

The Premier League will also launch new educational resources for children in primary and secondary schools. These resources, supported by Stonewall, aim to empower young people to fight bullying and offensive language.

Premiership Rugby matches, PDC Darts Championship Finals and England vs Jamaica netball test series are just a few of the events in other sports where the campaign will be activated.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: In this image released on November 23, 2021, Harlequins' Alex Dombrandt poses for a photo with a pair of rainbow lace-up boots at the launch of the Gallagher Premiership rugby season at Twickenham Stadium on September 09, 2021 in London, England.  The ninth round of the Gallagher Premiership from November 26 to 28 is dedicated to the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign.  (Photo by David Rogers / Getty Images)
Alex Dombrandt, number 8 with Premiership champions Harlequins, lends his voice to the Rainbow Laces campaign

Meanwhile, on Wednesday December 8, Rainbow Laces Day, Wembley Stadium will be lit up with pride in a show of support for the Football Association.

Watch Sky Sports News Thursday to find out more about the launch of Rainbow Laces 2021.

Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride which supports Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, returning for its annual activation from November 25 to December 12. Your story of being LGBTQ + or an ally could help make sport everyone’s game – please contact us here to discuss further.

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