Brands get behind campaign to support gay footballers

Brands including Premier Inn, BT Sport and Starbucks are running ads in today’s (8 September) Metro newspaper to show their support for the “Rainbow Laces” campaign, which aims to tackle homophobia in football by getting professional footballers to wear rainbow-coloured laces in their boots. 

All the ads in Monday’s edition of the Metro are from brands who back the campaign in what the publisher is calling an industry-first.

Premier Inn is changing its name to Premier Out in all communications today, while Smirnoff is running an ad saying “We wouldn’t change our recipe but we can change the game” to raise awareness of the campaign. Other brands including Virgin Media, Peugeot and Debenhams have showed their support by highlighting the campaign in their usual print ads and using social media to raise awareness of the campaign.

The campaign originally launched last year through a tie-up between Paddy Power and gay rights charity Stonewall. Once again, every player in the Premier League, Football League and Scottish Professional League, including youth and women’s teams, have been sent packets of rainbow laces in the hope they will be worn during games next weekend (13 and 14 September).

All of the Britain’s 650 MPs and other leading political figures have also been sent packets, while fans and grass-root players are being asked to tweet their support using the official hashtag #rainbowlaces.

A TV ad featuring Arsenal players including Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud is set to air this week. It features the players highlighting things about themselves that they can’t change and is designed to raise awareness of the issues around homophobia.

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, says the campaign is in response to the fact that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still rife in football. The charity says its own research found that seven in 10 football fans have heard or witnessed homophobia on the terraces, while more than 40 per cent believe football is an anti-gay sport.

Of the more than 5,000 professional footballers in the country, none are openly gay, a scenario that the campaign claims has odds of “over a quadragintillion to one”.

Paddy Power says: “We love football but it needs a good kick up the ass.  In many other areas of life, people can be open about their sexuality and it’s time for football to take a stand and show players it doesn’t matter what team they play for.”

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