Britain’s top sport stars are getting behind a campaign to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in sport this weekend.
England’s Premier League is among the bodies backing Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign as matches kick off across the country on Saturday and Sunday.
As well as rainbow-coloured laces and armbands for team captains, the Premier League has introduced bespoke rainbow branding to its ball plinths, pitch flags and handshake boards.
Ryan Atkin, the first professional referee to speak openly about being gay, said: “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.”
According to Stonewall’s research, almost two-thirds (63%) of sport fans said more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport.
Events began on Friday and will run until 3 December across many sports; the British Olympic Association (Team GB), British Cycling, England Rugby, Football Association, Premiership Rugby, Scottish Professional and Welsh Rugby are among the bodies involved.
Ruth Hunt, the chief executive of Stonewall, said: “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.”