The Rainbow Laces campaign in the English Premier League last weekend was seen as a step forward for the game and for sport in general. However, there is still a lot of work needed in order for everyone to feel included.
It’s easy for clubs to carry a few rainbow flags and for players to lace up their already multi-coloured boots with rainbow laces, but they’re just token demonstrations. Clubs need to enforce a zero tolerance policy when it comes to homophobia, sexism, racism and bigotry of all kinds.
The knuckle draggers still exist and they’ve even managed to master social media – just ask former world darts champion, Eric Bristow MBE. The ‘right thinking’ members of society must therefore, continue to challenge narrow-minded views at every turn. Every ‘Eric Bristow’ must be removed from the airwaves as soon as they reveal their sick, Stone Age views. Bigoted fans must be banned from grounds and blocked from social media sites, which is easier said than done.
English football has come a long, long way since the dark days of the 1980s and while it still has a long road to travel, it’s important to encourage progress of any kind, particularly when it comes to inclusion.
Sport should aim to transcend bigotry, racism, sexism and homophobia in order to provide an outlet for everyone. Football is the biggest sport in the world and should be a front-runner in campaigns such as this.
From an Irish point of view, we’ve seen terrace support for the LGBT community before. Bohemians famously unfurled a ‘Gay Bohs’ flag last March, which was heartening to see. Fans’ flags are one thing, but the governing bodies, clubs and coaches must continue to push the inclusion issue until sport includes everyone.