The campaign runs until December 3 and sees clubs, players and fans across the country show their backing for the LGBT community.
Players will show their support by wearing rainbow laces in their boots and top-flight team captains will wear a rainbow armband.
In a significant show of solidarity, all 92 League clubs will be supporting the campaign and for the first time, EFL clubs will also be proudly displaying rainbow-coloured corner flags at matches this weekend.
Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said: ‘Premier League football is for everyone, everywhere and our clubs are committed to equality and diversity at all levels of the sport.’
But not everyone is on board.
On Friday morning, Manchester City tweeted its support.
Make sport everyone’s game 🌈⚽️ pic.twitter.com/Ym03kpZMMk
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 24, 2017
But the responses to the tweet show why the Rainbow Laces campaign is so necessary. A stream of abusive and homophobic tweets followed, with a few brave supporters stepping in to challenge them.
One user named River Plate Italy posted: “Wtf!? This is one of the reasons I don’t like Manchester City anymore. You are a soccer team, why do you have to support LGTB? I don’t get it at all”
Wtf!? This is one of the reasons I don’t like Manchester City anymore. You are a soccer team, why do you have to support LGTB? I don’t get it at all
— River Plate Italy (@RiverPlateItaly) November 24, 2017
The campaign web page is keeping track of the number of people buying rainbow laces and the tally is already approaching an extraordinary 190,000 supporters. Research shows 72% of football fans have heard homophobia at games and 63% of people said more should be done to make LGBT+ people feel more accepted in sport.
That does imply that a large percentage do not share their positive message and the string of ‘sick’ emojis following Manchester City’s tweet reflects the challenge ahead in changing attitudes in the stands.
— محمد 🇸🇦 (@m7mdq1997) November 24, 2017
The vast majority of tweets responding to the original Man City post to it’s 5.3 million followers worldwide were negative, reflecting the fear professional footballers are reported to feel at the prospect of coming out.
In an OutNews Global exclusive, former MD of Leeds United FC, David Haigh revealed that he knew at least 20 gay or bi players in the top flight who were too afraid to come out. In the Stonewall research, 63% of young fans said an open player would have a positive impact on the sport. Their voices, however, are not represented in Man City’s Twitter response.
— rayan 123h71 (@123h71) November 24, 2017
There was a small number of supportive replies. Lisa Racheal posted: “Block all the disgusting bigots. I love my club.”
Block all the disgusting bigots. I love my club.
— Lisa Racheal (@Queen_of_Orange) November 24, 2017
Mari tweeted her congratulations and slammed those posting offensive replies.
some cityzens did not understand that it is to make sport everyone’s game; I am VERY disgusted by the comments, disgusted by the people who commented! Congratulations team, I love you. 💙🌈
— mari 16d (@lewandoawski) November 24, 2017
The highly important and powerful Rainbow Laces campaign aims to show that LGBT+ people are welcome in sport and, in spite of the huge show of support across the sporting fraternity and beyond, it’s clear that the campaign reveals prejudice at the same time as challenging it.