As of 2021, there are no openly gay male footballers in England’s top four divisions, including the Premier League and the EFL Championship. Despite the decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967, there has only been one player of the beautiful game to come out as LGBTQ + while linked to a British team. Justin Fashanu, an English footballer who played for various clubs between 1978 and 1997 including West Ham, came out in 1990 while at Leatherhead FC, being the first and last to do so.
Additionally, Kick It Out, the only equality and inclusion football organization, recently revealed that reports of abuse based on sexual orientation in professional football, both in stadiums and matches had audiences and on social media, grew 95 percent. Last year. Elsewhere, UEFA has sadly rejected a request from Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter to light up the Allianz Arena with the colors of the rainbow for the Euro 2020 group stage match between the ‘Germany and Hungary earlier this year.
In light of this and the lack of openly open players in men’s football (the women’s leagues have had a plethora of openly gay players including Hope Powell and Casey Stoney), Southampton FC have teamed up with their sponsor, Hummel, to produce a jersey that celebrates the LGBTQ + community. The Hampshire-based team, which are currently one of 20 teams in the aforementioned Premier League, the highest level in English football, worked with the German sports brand to create a rainbow soccer jersey , which includes a mix of the different flags of the LGBTQ + community.
The rainbow jerseys will be worn by the first team as they warm up ahead of Saturday’s game against Everton, which starts at 3 p.m. at Goodison Park. The collaboration will also see Everton and Danish side Brøndby IF sport similar jerseys, in light of Copenhagen Pride 2021, which takes place this month. Each jersey worn by the Saints team will then be auctioned off after the game, with funds raised going to the Saints Foundation, which works to make people feel more involved in the game.
Sarah Batters, Director of Marketing and Partnerships at Southampton FC, said: “At Southampton Football Club we strive to make football an inclusive environment for all and we recognize that there is work to be done to champion the community. LGBTQ + and eliminate discrimination.
“We are proud to stand alongside our partner, Hummel, in the fight for inclusion in football by sending the message that homophobia and transphobia have no place in our game.”
Allan Vad Nielsen, CEO of Hummel, said: “Football and sport are for everyone and it is important that we stand together in balance. With this new rainbow design we want to bring together coaches, players and fans from different clubs. “
And this is not the first time that football players have supported the LGBTQ + community in recent months. England captain Harry Kane wore a rainbow armband in the Pride Month light during the last Euro 2020 tournament, while Manuel Neuer wore a similar rainbow armband in his last four games for the Germany. Elsewhere, Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum wore a captain’s armband bearing the words’ One Love ‘and a rainbow motif for the Netherlands’ last game at Euro 2020.
A step in the right direction, here is a brighter and more beautiful game.
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