Paddy Power & Stonewall #RightBehindGayFootballers

Stonewall has linked with bookmaker Paddy Power to challenge players to show their support for gay footballers by wearing rainbow boot laces for its ‘Right Behind Gay Footballers’ campaign.


The campaign has sent rainbow laces to every footballer at the UK’s 134 professional clubs and asked for them to be worn for the weekend matches on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September in order to kick-off an attitudinal change across the sport and make the game more gay-friendly.


The public are being asked to join the campaign too through the social media hashtag #RBGF through the build-up to the weekend fixtures.


The week-long campaign is using outdoor, print (newspapers and magazines) and online advertising, in combination with editorial and advertorials, celebrities and PR to shine the spotlight on homophobia in football.


Controversial QPR midfielder and Twitter star Joey Barton has already backed the campaign by appearing in promotional material and push the cause on his personal feed..


The campaign, which has been developed by agencies Crispin Porter & Bogusky London and Lucky Generals, followed Stonewall research which suggests that seven in 10 football fans who have attended a match had heard or witnessed homophobia on the terraces and that more than 50% of fans feel that the Football Association, Premier League and Football League are not doing enough to tackle anti-gay abuse.


Back in February, the FA issued a toolkit to its clubs to help them combat homophobia in the game and yet just one month later research suggested that only 29 of the 92 English clubs were actively engaged in the Football v Homophobia campaign.


Further research in May showed that fans of Brighton FC were being subjected to homophobic abuse at over 70% of away games.


‘We love football but it needs a kick up the arse,’ says a spokesperson for the betting business.


‘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.’


‘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,’ said Stonewall Deputy CEO Laura Doughty.


‘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.’




Astonishingly, there are no known openly gay footballers in the English and Scottish professional leagues.


And according to the bookmaker’s own statistics, there are around 5,000 professional players in the UK 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.

Paddy Power says that is more than a quadragintillion, or similar odds to predicting the correct score in 150 consecutive football matches.


Only two British footballers have publicly said they were gay. Former England Under-21 player Justin Fashanu was the first to come out, but tragically took his own life eight years later.


Former Leeds and United States winger Robbie Rogers announced he was gay earlier in 2013 – but only after retiring from the league and claiming that he simply wouldn’t have been able to continue his football career in the UK because of the ‘pack mentality’ that affects the way footballers behave.


He later reversed his decision to quit the game and signed for LA Galaxy.


The campaign broke just a few days after Paddy Power had been the subject of intense criticism for a hosting a press conference with former NBA star Dennis Rodman who announced he was organising a basketball match between North Korea and the USA.




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