The EFL has reaffirmed its commitment to the Rainbow Laces campaign at Stonewall’s Summit in Manchester, in an ongoing show of support for LGBT fans and players on and off the pitch.EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey headed an EFL delegation at the summit and was on hand to present Stonewall Chief Executive Ruth Hunt with a commemorative framed EFL rainbow logo to mark the League’s burgeoning partnership with the LGBT rights charity. Stonewall is now the 73rd organisation that the EFL have issued a bespoke logo to, alongside the 72 EFL clubs.
Joining key decision-makers and influencers from across sport at Old Trafford, Harvey took part in a round-table discussion for CEOs which included EFL Club Chief Executives, FA Chairman Greg Clarke, Premier League Executive Director Bill Bush and PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor from the football family, alongside a wide array of senior executives from cricket, rugby union, rugby league, basketball, netball, athletics and more.
Speaking at the Summit, the EFL Chief Executive said: "The EFL strives to offer a football experience for everyone and it is vital that we work collaboratively with the football family and relevant partners to make our game inclusive for all.
“We are delighted to reaffirm our commitment to Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign which complements the ongoing work our clubs are undertaking as part of the EFL Equality Code of Practice.
“Many EFL clubs actively supported the campaign this season and we’re confident support across the EFL will only get stronger going forward.”
Hunt, Stonewall Chief Executive added: “Rainbow Laces is about encouraging people to come out in support of LGBT people and to say they won’t stand for abuse. Having the support of the English Football League is so important in helping to achieve this.
“The more senior leaders we have demonstrating that LGBT people are valued and welcome in all sports, the more confident people feel to step up and also show their support.”
Working closely with other football authorities, the EFL has an ongoing commitment to LGBT inclusion through the English Football Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan and works with member clubs through the Equality Code of Practice to be wholly inclusive, tackling all forms of discrimination.
Recently the EFL has worked with police and the football authorities to tackle the discrimination faced by Brighton & Hove Albion fans. A strategy for Championship clubs was implemented to educate and tackle the problem for specific matches with the Seagulls, which has seen a rise in subsequent bans and cautions.
Alongside Stonewall, the EFL continues to support the work of the various LGBT support organisations including Football v Homophobia, Pride in Football, Just a Ball Game, Pride Sport and Kick It Out.
In partnership with Football v Homophobia, Wigan Athletic have recently run workshops for their scholars to help raise awareness of homophobia in the game and wider society. Members of the youth team learnt to be careful about the language they use, not to make assumptions about people or stereotype, and to understand that they are role models for inclusion in the game.
Second year scholar Charlie Forecast, who attended the workshop, believes raising awareness is vitally important for the future of the game. He said: “The workshop was very insightful and a great idea. The biggest thing was making all of us aware of how big the campaign now is.
“The fact the campaign is so big tells us all that something needs to be done. If we can start from a young age accepting all people in football, it will benefit the game as a whole.”