So. This week I was Invited onto Pride Radio with Mr Hatton Jr. to present the LGBT News, and one story has been playing on my mind all week. So I would like to share it with y’all at Mr Gay Europe.

Stonewall has teamed up with the Football Association’s Premier League to have their players wear “Rainbow Laces”.

Now! I don’t know about you. But football was a big thing to me as a kid. I used to play Center Defense for a football team called “Wardley Legion F.C.”, until one horrendous experience which as a child scarred me and put me off football forever. During the game I did my job and defended the oncoming striker. Once I had the ball, I then passed back to the goalkeeper so that he could kick it down the pitch. But somehow my pass went straight past the keeper and into my own goal. I still to this day believe that is was not my fault and it was because the goalkeeper wasn’t wearing his glasses. Ha ha. Now to most people this would sound funny! But No.

Where I come from in England, football dominates over most things. So by scoring an own goal I was booed off the pitch buy some of the parents and I can still remember crying and being called a “puff” (a term that means gay) by one of the parents. So from then on I have hated football. Which is the reason why I have decided to talk about Stonewall and the Rainbow Laces campaign in the Premier League.

In England, football is know as a ‘man’s’ game. Going to watch the football was a ‘lad’s’ thing to do. If you didn’t follow football you were ‘gay’. There is so much homophobia in the sport, so for The Premier League to take on this campaign by Stonewall. I am so happy about this and amazed to be seeing this in my time!

The Premier League has promised to throw its support behind Stonewall’s rainbow laces initiative as part of a wider push to encourage diversity within its stadiums. Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore has written to club-affiliated LGBT supporter groups including Gay Gooner, Rainbow Toffees, Proud Lilywhite and Pride of Irons to thank them for their contributions before this weekend’s campaign.

Richard Scudamore told us, “We know there is more that we can do to use the spirit and energy of the football on the pitch as a force for good, and that is why the Premier League has decided to support Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign.”

The Premier League is keen to ensure clubs promote the use of ‘Kick It Out’ app and other reporting tools to report homophobic abuse, making it clear that it should be treated with the same seriousness as racist chanting or abuse.

Last month, the Football Association chairman, Greg Clarke, said he was ‘personally ashamed’ that no professional footballers had felt able to come out in the English game and that he believed they would suffer ‘significant abuse’ if they did so.

Some people believed his comments were overly negative. Keegan Hirst, England’s first openly gay rugby league player, said his views were ‘pretty negative and a bit old fashioned’.

Richard Scudamore later said, “Our support for the campaign, and the decision to become members of Team Pride, is further recognition that the LGBT community is a vital and integral part of our community!”

So, in conclusion, a sport that I hated for so many years, is finally doing something to make me change my opinion of the industry!

Massive High-5 to Stonewall for making this happen?

Well then, sisterrrrrrrs!!!!! Fancy watching the match this Saturday down the local…?

– Joni Valadares

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