Exeter City's home match against Northampton on Saturday, December 7, will see the club support this season's Rainbow Laces campaign at the end of a fortnight of nationwide action to promote inclusion and diversity in football.
The Football Association and Stonewall initiative encourages all football supporters and participants to make the game something for everyone to be a part of.
In association with Proud Grecians, Exeter City's LGBT+ and allies Supporter's Group, the club's One Game One Community Group, Exeter Pride and Isca Apollo, the Exeter LGBT+ friendly community football team, volunteers will take a giant rainbow flag onto the pitch and rainbow laces will be given out to some members of the crowd.
In addition, the club's community teams have been given Rainbow Laces to wear in support of the campaign.
The Rainbow Laces campaign has had a positive impact within its four years in football, inspiring around seven million people to feel more positive about LGBT inclusion in sport after seeing the campaign, while 4.8 million people have said they would be more likely to challenge anti-LGBT language in sport.
Despite that one in eight LGBT people avoid going to the gym or taking part in sports groups because of fear of discrimination and harassment, while more than two in five LGBT+ people think public sporting events are not a welcoming space for them (LGBT in Britain: Hate crime and discrimination, YouGov and Stonewall 2017).
Fans, sports leaders and athletes are all playing their part in order to help kick discrimination out of sport. According to Stonewall research, four in 10 LGBT people (43 per cent) think public sporting events aren't welcoming for them.
Exeter City has a long history of supporting rights for all, including taking a stand against homophobia for more than 10 years by supporting the annual Football v Homophobia initiative each February.
Exeter City’s One Game One Community Group is part of the national Kick it Out campaign which aims to address all types of discrimination in football including race, disability, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation.
Proud Grecian founder Alan Quick, a member of the Supporters Trust, its OGOC Group, co-founder of Exeter Pride and local co-ordinator for Football v Homophobia, said: "Exeter City has a great record on opposing homophobia and all types of discrimination and it is a credit to the club.
"It was on December 8 in 1992 that my late friend Justin Fashanu, the only ever professional footballer to ‘come out’ as gay played in a game at St James’ Park.
"Justin, the country’s first million pound black player, was playing for Torquay United against Exeter City in an Autoglass Trophy match when he made his appearance at the Exeter ground.
“Sadly during his lifetime he suffered from both racism and homophobia and FvH and its predecessor, The Justin Campaign, were formed to address some of these issues.
"Rainbow Laces is a really important campaign because it not only promotes inclusion but provides education. We have to develop a culture where, from a young age, everyone understands homophobia is wrong. If you wouldn’t say something offensive on the street then it’s not OK, under any circumstances, to say it on a football pitch or inside a stadium.
“Getting to this point will help change the culture of football, and perhaps even encourage players to come out who can then become role models to the LBGT+ community.
“We currently don’t have an openly gay male professional footballer playing in England. Of course, no-one should ever feel forced to come out, but Rainbow Laces is a chance to celebrate the LGBT+ community and make everyone in, or connected to it, feel comfortable and welcomed by football.”
The FA is committed to creating an inclusive environment for the LGBT+ community to both play and watch football. It is working with organisations, like LGBT+ charity Stonewall who founded Rainbow Laces, to achieve this goal.
It says it believes one way to prevent homophobia within or around football stadia is to encourage those who witness it to report it.
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