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Homophobic video game backlash over LGBTI-inclusive sports campaign

Homophobic video game backlash over LGBTI-inclusive sports campaign

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FIFA 17 introduced a Rainbow Kit as an option for gamers to play matches using rainbow jerseys.

But some gamers have been deleting the option entirely or ‘rage quitting’ as soon as they see people playing with the rainbow jersey, claiming gaming company EA is trying to push a political agenda.

The initiative, sparked by Stonewall UK’s Rainbow Laces campaign, has been applauded by many, but continues to see a backlash from some homophobic gamers.

Matt Horwood, Senior Communications Officer at Stonewall told Gay Star News: ‘It’s clear from some of the responses to our Rainbow Laces campaign on social media that there is still so much work to do to make sport everyone’s game.’

‘However, it’s been extremely encouraging to see sports fans echo the inclusive sentiment of posts from the likes of Premier League, FA and teams across the U.K, often even calling out the hateful comments from Twitter trolls,’ he said.

EA have been vocal supporters of equality for many years and include LGBTI representation in games like The Sims, Mass Effect and Dragon Age.

Curtis Free from the London Gaymers, believes the homophobia on the pitch carries over into the virtual world.

To see players disconnect from a game when the opposite team are playing in rainbow shirts demonstrates just how important it is to continue to support these ideas and unite all gamers and players until phobias are stamped out,’ Free told Gay Star News.

‘We hope it really is just the vocal minority as we believe most gamers and sports fans do welcome and accept LGBTQ players, so lets not let those voices drown out the successes elsewhere,’ he said.

Comments like ‘shame’ and ‘disgraceful’ have been posted under tweets from FIFA promoting the rainbow kit, but Free hopes it will inspire continued change.

‘We’re really glad to see EA take a firm stance on inclusion and we hope they continue to introduce similar initiatives and gameplay mechanics across their games and that other video game companies aspire to follow in their footsteps,’ Free said.