In 2013 the Rainbow Laces campaign was launched by Paddy Power to address homophobia in sport. In 2016, Stonewall, Britain’s leading lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity took over the Rainbow Laces campaign to address the problem in a serious narrative and make it their own.
Stonewall research established that one in five 18 to 24-year-olds say they’d be embarrassed if their favourite player came out and 79 per cent of people have heard homophobic abuse at a live football game in the past year.
‘Make Sport Everyone’s Game’
We worked with Stonewall to transform the Rainbow Laces campaign into something credible and help them tell a story around the problems facing LGBT people within sport.
The Rainbow Laces, ‘Make Sport Everyone’s Game’ movement aimed to show that everyone can participate and enjoy sport, whoever they are and whatever their background. Alongside support from TeamPride, we launched a week-long Rainbow Laces takeover campaign with the aim of raising awareness and changing perceptions amongst football and rugby fans.
The Premier League, Football Association, English Football League, Rugby Football Union and sports clubs around Britain hosted a Rainbow Laces weekend takeover to show their support for lesbian, gay, bi and trans players and fans. Rainbow Laces-themed activities took place throughout the week of 21st November – 27th November in both professional and grass roots sports clubs, coming to a climax on the weekend of 26th and 27th November.
The Premier League showed its their support for the campaign at every fixture over the weekend with perimeter advertising at every match supporting Rainbow Laces messaging and every game opened with a giant Premier League Rainbow Laces flag. Captains also wore Rainbow Laces armbands while premiership rugby players sported rainbow laces on their shoes. England rugby player James Haskell also wore rainbow laces on his shoes while on air as a pundit for Sky Sports during the Autumn Internationals.
Football clubs around Britain, including all Premier League Clubs, and a number of clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two, English Football League, Premiership Rugby and Welsh Rugby all stood to support the campaign. Football clubs included Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool FC, Hull City and rugby clubs included Sale, Newcastle, Bristol and Bath. The Premier League and its clubs and fan groups also changed their Twitter backgrounds to a rainbow theme.
During the campaign week, activities included teams wearing Rainbow Laces during training, laces being handed out at weekend fixtures and clubs organising meetings between LGBT fan groups. The Wembley Arch was also lit up in rainbow colours on Saturday 26 November and the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) also joined in, with referees lacing up for the weekend’s fixtures.
The campaign was supported by a video Pitch created that was aired at the launch party and subsequently shown on Sky Sports News over the course of the weekend. The film featured LGBT athletes and fans talking about the effect that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language has on those who watch and play sport. It featured Team GB canoeing champion Matt Lister, club photographer for AFC Bournemouth, Sophie Cook, and former England and Team GB women’s football captain Casey Stoney, as well as coaches, fans and players – all of whom identify as lesbian, bi, gay or trans.