20 September 2013
Village Manchester, one of the leading gay football teams in the country, are showing their support for the 'Right Behind Gay Footballers' campaign by wearing rainbow laces this weekend.
by Rob McPherson
The club, who also have a number of straight players on their books, will wear the laces in their local league match to show their support for other gay footballers.
As a member of the Gay Football Supporters' Network (GFSN), Village Manchester are backing the campaign - set up by Stonewall and Paddy Power - to challenge negative perceptions of gay players and to kick homophobia out of football. There are around 5,000 professional male players in the UK but currently no 'out' players. Based on the national average there should be 200-300 gay players and this campaign is intended to show the public support for them should they decided to come out.
James Hardern, one of Village Manchester's straight players, said: "I am proud to play for Village Manchester alongside my gay mates and I completely agree with what the club stands for and represents. It annoys me that people still look down on gay people and they should accept others for who they are. I have made some great mates on the team and they are as tactically and technically good as anyone else on the pitch and I am proud to be wearing a pair of the rainbow laces in my next game to support them."
GFSN Communications Officer, Simon Smith, welcomed Village Manchester's participation: "It's great that Village Manchester are going to be wearing the laces. As they are an inclusive team and play in a mainstream league this initiative will send out a great message to opposition players and supporters. The club are one of many gay teams dotted around the country and we are proud that teams from London in the south to Glasgow in the north will be donning laces this weekend."
The campaign, which has seen laces distributed to all 134 professional clubs in the UK, was launched by QPR's Joey Barton and has seen support from various players, clubs and celebrities including Phil Jagielka, Peter Odemwingie, John Arne Riise, Gary Lineker, Matt Le Tissier, Stephen Fry, Everton, Queens Park Rangers and Leyton Orient.
To show your support on Twitter, use the hashtag #RBGF.