British Soccer Star Aims to End Homophobe in Sports
British Soccer star Joey Barton is urging other soccer players to join a colorful campaign that aims to end homophobia in soccer, the British newspaper Metro reports.
Barton, a midfielder, is leading the Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign and has teamed up with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power and the LGBT charity Stonewall. The group’s goal is to make it easier for gay athletes to come out in soccer. As the Metro reports, there are currently no openly gay players in profession soccer leagues in the U.K.
Right Behind Gay Footballers have sent 5,000 soccer players rainbow laces they can wear this weekend to show their support for LGBT equality in sports. Barton first wore the laces in a game last weekend.
"The bureaucrats have been guilty of not taking a tough enough stance to make this issue go away. We live in quite a liberal democracy and it’s incredible we’re even having this conversation in 2013," the athlete told the Metro in an interview. "The modern-day footballer is quite open-minded I think. People’s sexuality has become less and less of an issue. Hopefully a large number of players will get behind the campaign."
Other soccer stars have backed Barton, 31, and shown their support for LGBT rights, like Irish midfielder David Meyler, who tweeted a photo of his shoes with the rainbow laces.
"I’m supporting the #RBGF I’ve got the rainbow laces in my boots!" he wrote. Meyler isn’t alone, however. Soccer star Keryn Seal wrote, "I definitely want to be rocking a set of the @stonewalluk rainbow laces for my next England game... Great idea. Hope the pros get behind it."