Updated: Friday, 29th May 2020 @ 6:20am

Rainbow Laces: Village Manchester squad tackle homophobia and encourage gay footballers to 'come out'

Rainbow Laces: Village Manchester squad tackle homophobia and encourage gay footballers to 'come out'

| By Josh Willacy

The city’s gay football team Village Manchester are putting their best foot forward and backing the national Rainbow Laces campaign, to encourage more people in the game to come out as gay.

Professional and grassroots footballers up and down the country have shown their support for the initiative, which aims to spark a conversation about homophobia in football.

At present out of more than 5,000 players in the UK there is no openly gay professional footballer.

It has been suggested that there is a one in one-hundred sextillion chance that this scenario could actually be the case and the Rainbow Lace campaign by Stonewall, hopes to break down barriers.

Rob McPherson, Communications Officer at Village Manchester, said: “Last year the laces went down a storm and they created an astonishing amount of debate around homophobia in football.

“It is great that teams like Manchester City and Arsenal are getting involved and I hope that the enhanced involvement of more clubs, players and public figures will further boost the message of the campaign.”

Football stars Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have shown their support with a hilarious advert filmed in the Arsenal dressing room that’s been shared worldwide.

Thomas Hitzlsperger, the only openly gay footballer to play in the premier league, has also become a spokesperson for the Rainbow Laces campaign.

Paddy Power, the Gay Football Supporters’ network and Stonewall are the primary backers delivering the campaign which intends to kick homophobia out of the beautiful game.

Research from the LGBT charity found that seven in ten football fans have heard or witnessed homophobia on the terraces and more than 40 per cent believe football to be an anti-gay sport.

Stonewall chief executive Ruth Hunt said: “We know that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still rife in football. That needs to change.

“The clubs and players supporting the campaign and lacing up this weekend are taking a powerful stand against prejudice in our national game.

“Our work in sport will continue all year round, but for this week we need as many people as possible to show their support and get involved.”

LACE UP: Village Manchester are just one of a number of teams supporting the campaign

Rainbow coloured laces have been dispatched to every single professional player in the UK, including youth and women’s teams.

Deliveries have also been made to all 650 MPs and leading political figures and fans are encouraged to tweet their support using the official hashtag: #RainbowLaces.

The week long campaign will come to a head on September 13 and 14 and Village Manchester will be doing their bit and lacing up their boots with the colourful ties when they take part in their next fixture in the Manchester Accountants Football League.

Rob said: “The campaign's theme is 'Change the Game' and by Village Manchester taking part in it I hope we can change the game at the local grassroots level.”

To find out more information about joining Village Manchester, click here.

Image courtesy of VMFC, with thanks