Belfast Telegraph

Players to decide on rainbow laces

The Premier League has said it is up to "individual clubs and players" to decide whether to wear rainbow laces this weekend as part of a campaign against homophobia in football.

The gay rights charity Stonewall has sent laces to all 92 professional clubs in England, plus the 42 in Scotland, asking players to wear the laces.

The Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign has also been backed by a bookmakers but the Premier League said it was not consulted.

A Premier League spokesman said: "The underlying message behind this campaign is a good one, indeed we and our clubs have worked hard with government and other stakeholders to ensure the whole equalities agenda is something we fully are aware of and engaged in.

"However, we were not consulted about this particular campaign. Had we been involved earlier in the process we could have worked with Stonewall to consider things like boot deals, the use of particular betting partners, and other issues.

"It is up to individual clubs and players to decide whether they support this campaign. We have let Stonewall know that we would be happy to talk to them in the future to discuss ways in which we could work together."

There are no known openly gay footballers in the English and Scottish professional leagues.

Former Leeds and United States winger Robbie Rogers retired in February, announcing his sexuality and claiming he could not have continued his career due to the "pack mentality" that changes the way footballers behave.

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

Before Rogers' revelation, only two high-profile footballers had publicly said they were gay.

Former England Under-21 international Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to come out, in 1990, before he took his own life eight years later, aged 37.

Swedish lower league player Anton Hysen - son of former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen - also came out in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.0

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