There are several ways in which I am not typically British. One of them is that I’m not interested in football. Being a gay man, however, this may not be terribly surprisingly, given the stereotype that we typically don’t care for sport.

(Just to be clear, I mean what Americans call ‘soccer’ but the rest of the world knows as football.)

However, when I heard about this campaign, Rainbow Laces, I was intrigued. You see, I may not care much about a group of men kicking a leather ball around a field, but I do care about raising awareness of homophobia in all aspects of daily life, sport included.

Did you know, there are no openly gay or bi professional football players currently playing anywhere in the world? And considering that football is one of the most watched sports around the globe, this is kind of a big deal.

This UK based campaign, to give out free rainbow coloured laces to football players all over the country to show support this weekend for put an end to the homophobia that prevents gay and bi players from being out.

Arsenal FC, one of London’s most famous football teams, is backing the campaign, which will hopefully give it some more exposure.

With the next two FIFA Football World Cups taking place in Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022), two countries which criminalise homosexuality and ones expression thereof with varying degrees of severity, the landscape of professional football changing to accept openly gay and bi players in the next few years could be a major stepping stone towards a more equal and accepting global community.

So while I don’t particularly care about the everyday dramas of which team beats which other football team, I do care about how this immensely popular sport could play an important part in shaping the future of LGBT rights and recognition.

Watch the Arsenal FC video for the #rainbowlaces campaign:

Interestingly, this problem only seems to exist in the world of men’s professional football: in women’s professional football, there are plenty of out lesbian players. Another example of how misogyny affects gay men, perhaps?

Title image by hippie on Flickr