Paddy Power, in association with leading gay rights charity Stonewall, today sets out to tackle homophobia in football by distributing rainbow-coloured football boot laces to every professional player in the UK. #RBGF
There are more than 5,000 professional footballers across England, Scotland and Wales but none of them is openly gay. It’s recognised that gay footballers are too worried about the impact on their careers and personal lives to ‘come out’ rather than there being no gay footballers. This scenario has odds of over a quadragintillion to one. And, no, we’re not taking bets on the subject.
German goalkeeping legend Oliver Kahn, who played 86 times for his country, recently admitted the issue of homosexuality was still a taboo subject for footballers and fans. He said homosexuality was no longer a “big deal” in society but said it would be “naive” to think that it was the same in football.
Paddy Power and Stonewall have created rainbow-coloured football boot laces (Rainbow Laces) and distributed them to every footballer across all 134 professional clubs in the UK. Each of these players is being asked to wear the special laces in their club fixtures on September 21 and 22 to show they support gay footballers. The simple message of ‘Right Behind Gay Footballers‘ is designed to kickstart a fundamental change in attitude.
- It’s not about forcing anyone to come out.
- We love football and this issue needs a bold approach.
Monday, September 16, sees the start of a week’s worth of activity from Paddy Power and our partners to shine the spotlight on homophobia in football.
How to show your support
Players can simply support the campaign by wearing the rainbow coloured laces in their weekend fixtures and using their extraordinary influence to set a benchmark in world sport. QPR midfielder Joey Barton has already shown his support. He wore the laces in a man-of-the-match performance against Birmingham on Saturday, September 15.
Get involved on Twitter or Facebook
Fans, celebrities, our followers on social media, and the general public can simply show their support by taking to Twitter or Facebook and using the hashtag #RBGF, standing for Right Behind Gay Footballers, during the week. On Sunday afternoon, Joey (@joey7barton) tweeted a picture of the Rainbow Laces on his boots.
— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) September 15, 2013
Paddy Power said:
We love football but it needs a kick up the arse. In most 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. Fans can show they are right behind this by simply tweeting using the #RBGF hashtag whilst all players have to do is lace up this weekend to help set an example in world sport
Stonewall Deputy Chief Executive Laura Doughty said: “It’s time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game. That’s why we’re working with Paddy Power on this fun and simple campaign. By wearing rainbow laces players will send a message of support to gay players and can begin to drag football in to the 21st century.”
Background to the campaign
2013 has seen a significant shift in sentiment around homophobia in football and in sport generally. In February the FA created a toolkit for clubs to address homophobic discrimination with 29 out of 92 professional clubs signing up. In March Leeds player Robbie Rogers retired stating it was impossible to be gay and continue playing. In May research showed that Brighton fans were being subjected to homophobic abuse at over 70% of away games. These events have led to a spotlight being shone on the problem and a building wave of support around tackling it once and for all. Paddy Power in association with Stonewall want to give players, fans and the general public a platform to take a stand on this issue and set an example.
Paddy Power hopes for the campaign to be the beginning of a fundamental change in attitude and have ambitions to take the impact of the activity and extend this into next year, when the issue will be in the spotlight on a global stage.
About the laces
Rainbow football boot laces have been produced and distributed to all 134 professional clubs in England, Wales, and Scotland. Pairs have been sent to each club to cover the number of players in each first team squad and the laces have been given quality and performance tests in top flight football scenarios.
- There are 134 clubs across England, Scotland, and Wales in the Premier League, Championship, Football League 1, Football League 2, Scottish Premier League, Scottish Championship, Scottish League 1, and Scottish League 2.
- There are approximately 5,000 professional players across these leagues.
- We’ve done the maths and the odds on there being no gay person in a random sample of 5000, assuming a 6% likelihood, is 1 in 2.29 x 10^134.
- In technical terms that is over a quadragintillion.
- As a comparison, this is similar odds to predicting the correct score in 150 consecutive football matches.
How do I get Paddy Power Rainbow Laces?
- Enter via this Facebook app for your chance to win a pair of Paddy Power Rainbow Laces (desktop and mobile) >
- Paddy Power’s shops have a limited stock. Find your nearest shop here – but it’s first come, first served >