It’s no secret that professional football clubs and leagues, especially the Premier League have their share of homophobia. With a recent study examining the incidences of homophobic culture in sport, in addition to several incidences of homophobic chants from fans during football games and of course. with Russia, known for its anti-gay laws and increasing crackdown on gay rights, hosting the 2018 World Cup. It is fair to say that there are still a lot of issues regarding homophobic and transphobic culture in sport and many Football fans have experienced homophobic and transphobic attacks at Football matches.
Many Premier League football clubs have been working to combat this and increasing their representation and support for their LGBTI fans. Including 16 out of 20 Premier League clubs adopting a Pride themed version of their logos, messages and pictures in a campaign led by Stonewall UK to promote more visibility, education, and acceptance for LGBTI people. Despite some homophobic backlash, this hasn’t slowed down the Gay Roller that the Premier League is fueling for its LGBTI fans and supporters.
Inspired by the Stonewall UK’s #RainbowLaces campaign, for which many Premier Clubs have taken part in. Fans of the Watford FC, during their December 4th match against Manchester City; created a giant human rainbow flag that covered an entire section of the stands. The Watford FC LGBTI Fan Club has helped to lead the huge display of support by encouraging LGBTI fans to join them at various home and away matches.
Wow, just wow! Thank you to the whole #watfordfc family you have done us proud! We love you all so much and a huge thank you the @The1881_wfc for all of your help! #RainbowLaces #gobigorgohome #the1881movement pic.twitter.com/11EDLeHFJg
— Proud Hornets 🏳️🌈 (@ProudHornets) 4 December 2018
The Rainbow Flag Display has gotten a lot of positive feedback and support for Watford FC from LGBTI and Non-LGBTI fans alike. Of course, the clubs are not immune to homophobic and transphobic feedback as well. Which is why gestures like the human rainbow flag show that the teams taking the lead to ensure their LGBTI fans are supported and appreciated by the teams and that sports are for everybody.
By Dirk Smith