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Premier League clubs supporting LGBTI campaign receive homophobic abuse online

Premier League clubs supporting LGBTI campaign receive homophobic abuse online

Rainbow armband Premier League

Premier League soccer clubs have experienced a spate of homophobic abuse after endorsing a campaign to raise LGBTI inclusivity in sports.

Big name teams, such as Arsenal, Chelsea, have been receiving homophobic responses to their participation in the Rainbow Laces campaign. 

Manchester United, which also participated in the campaign, received more than 43,000 ‘angry’ comments on the official Facebook page, the Guardian reports.

The Rainbow Laces initiative was conceptualized by LGBTI rights group Stonewall and involves high-profile sportspeople wearing rainbow attire, such as captain armbands or shoelaces, to help raise awareness of LGBTI inclusivity in sports.

But lashing out at the clubs support, fans posted messages such as ‘Say No to LGBT’, ‘God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Lukaku’, and ‘Gaychester United’.

Inclusivity in the Premier League

Responding to the online backlash, Kirsty Clarke, Stonewall’s director of sport, said the homophobic abuse came from a small minority and stood as a reminder of the importance of raising LGBTI inclusivity in sports.

‘This year’s campaign is about giving people confidence to be active allies and show their visible support for LGBT people, either on or off the pitch,’ Clarke said.

‘It’s been heartening to see that allyship in action, particularly on social media, where we’ve seen countless messages from people who aren’t LGBT calling out abuse from fellow fans and highlighting why their attitudes have no place in sport.’

A spokesperson for Arsenal also reaffirmed the club’s support, saying: ‘We are very proud to be supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign and do a great deal of work to promote equality across all levels of the game.’

‘As Facebook is the platform where these views are being shared, we are ensuring that all of our Arsenal for Everyone initiatives and messages, plus ways to report anti-LGBT language on a match day, are posted via this platform,’ the spokesperson added.

Rampant homophobia

Though starting in 2013 and partnering with the Premier League last year, the Rainbow Laces campaign has garnered significant attention in recent months.

LGBTI rights campaigners lauded Premier clubs’ involvement in the Rainbow Laces campaign as a major step forward for progressing LGBTI awareness in sports.

Homophobia is deeply entrenched in soccer culture in the UK, which has led to many players to remaining closeted and very few professional soccer players being openly LGBTI.

The climate has also had an effect on the fandom of the sport. According to a 2017 Stonewall survey, 43% of the LGBTI people polled said they found sporting events unwelcoming.

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