Sunday 13 December 2020 12:43, UK
The Premier League, English Football League and Football Association will show their support for the LGBT community at the weekend by hosting a Rainbow Laces takeover.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are among the Premier League clubs showing their support for the campaign, while Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby will also be taking part in Rainbow Laces themed events around the UK.
Activities include teams wearing Rainbow Laces during training, laces being handed out at weekend fixtures and clubs organising meetings between LGBT fan groups.
Perimeter advertising at every Premier League match will include messages supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign and every game will be opened with a giant Premier League Rainbow Laces flag.
The arch at Wembley Stadium will be lit up in rainbow colours on Saturday and the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) are also joining in, with referees lacing up for this weekend's fixtures.
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As well as signing up to Rainbow Laces, the Premier League has become a member of TeamPride, a coalition of organisations committed to making sport everyone's game by encouraging fans, players, sports clubs and organisations to show their support of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.
Premier League executive chairman, Richard Scudamore, said: "The Premier League is all about exciting, passionate and unpredictable football that is for everyone, everywhere.
"The Rainbow Laces campaign complements the work clubs are doing to promote inclusion and diversity in their stadiums, and across all levels of the sport.
"Our support for the campaign, and the decision to become members of TeamPride, is further recognition that the LGBT community is a vital and integral part of our community."
This mass show of support follows research released by LGBT equality charity Stonewall earlier this year, which revealed 72 per cent of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at a live sports event.
The research, conducted by ICM and released in September, also showed that the majority of sports fans welcome LGBT fans and players, and almost two thirds (63 per cent) said more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport.
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As part of the Rainbow Laces week, Stonewall has produced a film featuring LGBT athletes and fans talking about the effect that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language has on those who watch and play sport.
The film features Team GB canoeing champion Matt Lister, Sophie Cook, club photographer for Bournemouth, and former England and Team GB women's football captain Casey Stoney, as well as coaches, fans and players - all of whom identify as lesbian, gay bi or trans.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall's chief executive, said: "We know the majority of sports fans want a better, more inclusive game. This campaign is about encouraging people to step up and say they will not stand for abuse and the support of football and rugby clubs and associations is crucial because it gives people the confidence to do that."