THE EFL is changing its logo to a rainbow design this weekend as Grimsby Town and EFL clubs across the country unite to show support for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) fans and players on and off the pitch as part of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign.
The Mariners are proud to support the campaign and players will be showing their support by donning rainbow laces in this weekend’s fixture versus Crawley.
Rainbow Laces-themed activities will be taking place across the divisions as EFL clubs join other professional and grass roots sports clubs in backing the campaign. Activities include teams wearing Rainbow Laces during training, laces being handed out at weekend fixtures and clubs organising meetings between LGBT fan groups. Match official are also joining in, with referees lacing up with rainbow laces for this weekend’s fixtures.
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This show of support by the EFL and clubs follows research released by Stonewall earlier this year, which revealed 72 per cent of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at a live sports event. But the research, conducted by ICM and released in September, also showed that the majority of sports fans welcome LGBT fans and players. Almost two thirds (63 per cent) said more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport.
Shaun Harvey, Chief Executive of the EFL, said ““It is imperative that the game is unified in creating a safe and welcoming environment for all and the EFL is committed to providing a positive experience that stretches well beyond the 90 minutes of play.
“We very much welcome the opportunity to work with Stonewall and the LGBT community through the Rainbow Laces campaign. We will support our clubs in ensuring the important campaign messages are heard as we continue to increase awareness and address inequality across all aspects of the game.”
This weekend’s support for Rainbow Laces forms part of its wider LGBT work delivered by the EFL in conjunction with clubs through its Code Of Practice. This includes delivering activities, setting policies, and advising on recruitment and education/training at clubs, as well as working with them on establishing LGBT supporter groups. The EFL is also working with the FA on LGBT History month to provide seminars and raise awareness.
As part of the Rainbow Laces week, Stonewall has produced a film featuring LGBT athletes and fans talking about the effect that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language has on those who watch and play sport. The film features Team GB canoeing champion Matt Lister, Sophie Cook, club photographer for AFC Bournemouth, and former England and Team GB women’s football captain Casey Stoney, as well as coaches, fans and players – all of whom identify as lesbian, bi, gay or trans.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said ‘We know the majority of sports fans want a better, more inclusive game. This campaign is about encouraging people to step up and say they will not stand for abuse and the support of football and rugby clubs and associations is crucial because it gives people the confidence to do that.’
Stonewall has developed a range of measures to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport. The charity has developed a sports toolkit for grassroots and community sport teams to build awareness and understanding of the issues affecting LGBT people, and how they can help ensure all sports offer an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. Stonewall are working with all of the clubs involved in Rainbow Laces to support their activities.