It’s been just under two weeks since the Rainbow Laces campaign began and what a fantastic response we’ve had.
I’ve been inundated with Tweets and images over the weekend ranging from professional players, managers, TV pundits and an overwhelming number of you lacing up and embracing the campaign across your respected Saturday and Sunday leagues.
A mixed bag
However, it’d be foolish of me to highlight only the positives. If you’ve been following the campaign, you’ll likely have ran into numerous media outlets suggesting the majority of Premier League clubs snubbed the idea. But whilst those clubs that turned a blind eye to the campaign, for fear of supporting a good-deed funded by a betting company, it’s worth asking the question: What actions have they taken to improve attitudes within the modern game?
The answer is not many.
Stonewall, the charity behind Rainbow Laces, along with Paddy Power, helped bring the campaign to life. Without the funding and presence of Paddy Power, the campaign would’ve had little ground to stand on. When asked if I’d be interested in sharing the Right Behind Gay Footballers message – which has caused a huge stir itself – it was a no-brainer. Sending out a few Tweets here and there was the least I could do to support the cause. So I was disappointed to hear that Everton was the only Premier League team supporting the campaign, although a few left the decision to players’, the bigger clubs showed little interest in tackling issue hands on.
There were other criticisms too. Football vs Homophobia’s comments deemed the use of language and slogans inappropriate, but these were deliberately controversial to fuel discussion. And it certainly had the desired affect, to which I admire. Some individuals across my Facebook page claiming it ‘disgusting’, but the majority understanding serious and controversial topics need approaching light-heartedly.
Stonewall explained: “We teamed up with Paddy Power for this campaign precisely because they talked the language of players and fans. The slogan is risqué and tongue in cheek but we are proud that it is engaging with fans and players and that they are taking a positive stand.”
Despite the criticisms of some, we can still take away huge positives from the campaign. Here are a few personal highlights.
In the two weeks the campaign’s been live, it’s received approximately 72,000 mentions online. Not only that, all the friends and followers of people mentioning #RGBF, would’ve read those messages. In fact, the campaign generated over 320,000,000 exposures, staggering numbers really. Obviously, none of this would’ve been possible if it hadn’t been for those pictured above, you guys across Twitter and a number of other high-profiled individuals; Stephen Fry, Ed Miliband, Ricky Hatton, Oliver Giroud to name just a few.
Stonewall Deputy Chief Executive Laura Doughty said “We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the fantastic support shown by players, fans, politicians, TV presenters, sports journalists and thousands of others for the #RBGF campaign. The last week has seen all levels of the game- from local amateur teams to Premier League players and managers – lace up and show their support for gay players and fans. We know, however, that there is still much to do and will continue to work with clubs and football authorities to challenge homophobia in the game.”
Whilst the inclusion of every Premier League team would’ve helped propel the campaign further, everyone involved with the campaign can be satisfied they’ve helped spread the message. By no means do I envisage this the end for the campaign, it’s simply the beginning. I didn’t expect a surge of gay footballers to come forward following the weekend’s actions, but with an estimated 1% of our population either gay or lesbian and approximately 5,000 players that make up the professional leagues – offering support to those reluctant to come out is vital.
I’d like to thank everyone involved with the campaign so far, keep up the good work and keep wearing those laces!
As ever with my blogs, I ask for your comments below. Did you get involved with the campaign? If you were running the campaign, what would you do differently? Whatever your opinion, let me know below.