The Premier League has launched a new campaign with LGBT organisation Stonewall aimed at focusing on tackling homophobic abuse and creating an atmosphere where gay players feel more comfortable talking publicly about their sexuality.
The initiative builds on an earlier partnership with Stonewall, which saw the league promote the charity’s Rainbow Laces anti-homophobia campaign last year.
The partnership will be launched by the Premier League’s executive director Bill Bush today (15 May) and will see the pair work with police to take a harder line on incidents of homophobic and racial abuse within football stadiums.
Discussions with police around addressing unacceptable language will be a major focus of the campaign. According to the Times, league officials will provide forces with examples of positive developments and good practice by certain forces.
It follows on from a House of Commons inquiry published in February which called for a one or two-year ban for first time offenders caught chanting homophobic abuse.
The league has had to deal with several instances of abuse, the most recent of which saw police investigate complaints regarding Manchester United fans reportedly directing abuse at Chelsea fans. Newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion FC are expected to draw more attention to the issue from next season given the city’s large LGBT community and reputation as the unofficial gay capital of Britain.
In addition to tackling abuse at games, the campaign will also work to develop conditions which will make it easier for any gay players to publicly discuss their sexuality if they wish to.
It will also attempt to create an atmosphere which encourages families, young people and supporters from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to attend games more.
Earlier this year Stonewall announced a partnership with Manchester United intended to help address a lack of diversity regarding sexuality and gender identity in football. As part of the agreement United agreed to host the 2017 Rainbow Laces Summit at its Old Trafford home stadium today (15 May).