FOOTBALL clubs across England will be lacing up to help inspire, educate, and encourage allyship to support LGBT+ inclusion over the coming weeks.
Suffolk FA will join The FA, the Premier League, EFL, Barclays FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship and thousands of National League System and grassroots clubs in support of the Rainbow Laces campaign, which aims to work across communities to Make Sport Everyone’s Game.
This year’s campaign centres around allyship, which means being supportive of equal civil rights, gender equality and LGBT+ social movements, challenging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
Running from November 26th to December 13th, Rainbow Laces will be worn on the pitch when possible, with the campaign also focusing on online support to celebrate and galvanise LGBT+ people and allies across communities.
Wednesday, December 9th will be marked as Rainbow Laces Day with everybody encouraged to share their support online.
In November 2018 The FA announced a partnership with Stonewall, which has seen the organisation commit to joining its Diversity Champions programme and working together on developing and delivering bespoke staff training and empowerment programmes for FA employees across Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park.
In recent years Suffolk FA have sent out more than 1,500 pairs of laces to players, officials, clubs and leagues as well as Rainbow Laces captains’ armbands.
They have also delivered a Pride football tournament at Goals in Ipswich and worked alongside leagues to designate Rainbow Laces fixture weekends which have included Adult/Youth/Female/Male and Disability Leagues. This also included county cup fixtures last season.
The combined efforts of grassroots clubs and leagues continues to use football as a vehicle to generate awareness of and help tackle homophobia, transphobia and biphobia abuse.
While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to encourage people to be active allies of LGBT+ people and to make the game truly inclusive. Research from Stonewall, the UK’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity, says more than two in five [43%] think public sporting events are not a welcoming space for LGBT+ people.
Research also shows that COVID-19 is having a negative impact across LGBT+ communities with many experiencing isolation and poor mental health.
Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler said: “The Board of Directors of Suffolk FA are proud to support Stonewall in promoting equality and diversity through the 2020 Rainbow Laces Campaign.
“This campaign makes our clubs in Suffolk stronger by making everyone feel welcome in a safe and inclusive environment.
“The Board will all be proudly wearing our Rainbow Laces on December 9th for Wear Your Rainbow Laces Day.”
Suffolk FA Inclusive Football Development Officer Kirsty Smith said: “Suffolk FA is committed to making the game truly accessible to everyone and that means harnessing the power of football to help further educate and encourage allyship to support LGBT+ communities across our region.
“We are proud to support the Rainbow Laces campaign and each year we are seeing greater awareness and an increasing willingness from people to tackle all forms of discrimination. This is a significant next step to making the game inclusive for all.”
Anybody who wants to learn more about how they can support, or has a story they’d wish to share, is encouraged to get in touch.
For further details and to access resources to promote your fixture, click here