Rainbow Laces campaign discussed by Sunday Supplement panel

Premier League's support for Rainbow Laces about "understanding different communities", Daily Mail's Adam Crafton tells Sunday Supplement

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The Sunday Supplement panel discuss the Rainbow Laces campaign, what it sets out to achieve, and whether it is succeeding

The "obsession" by some for a Premier League player to come out publicly as gay or bisexual is a distraction from the focus of Rainbow Laces, the Daily Mail's Adam Crafton told Sunday Supplement.

The Premier League, SPFL and EFL have recently been participating in LGBT equality charity Stonewall's Rainbow Laces initiative to create a more inclusive culture across sport.

Stonewall rainbow handshake board and walkout flag during the Premier League match between Manchester City and AFC Bournemouth at Etihad Stadium on December 1, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom
Image: There have been Rainbow Laces handshake boards and walkout flags at Premier League games this weekend

People involved in sport, from grassroots to elite level, have been wearing coloured laces, while football club captains have worn rainbow armbands.

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The Sunday Supplement panel discussed whether or not high-profile individuals in the modern men's professional game are doing enough to spread the campaign message to 'make sport everyone's game', but Crafton believes the media also has a role to play.

He said: "I think we need to drop this obsession with who is going to be the first footballer to come out.

"As far as I'm concerned, I don't really care if someone doesn't come out for the next 10 or 15 years. The focus has to be on creating the best possible environment, so that means going into academies, better inclusion training, going into schools.

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A number of Premier League clubs showed their support for the campaign on Saturday

"It's about understanding the different communities in football. The campaign sets out to create the best possible environment for people to feel comfortable to be themselves.

"I think it's succeeding at that, to a certain extent. But I think there are things that can be improved by football clubs and by people in football."

Former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers came out publicly as gay in 2013, but only after the USA international had retired from the game aged 25, saying it would have been "impossible" to be open about his sexuality during his playing career in England. Soon after, he returned to football with Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer.

A general view of a rainbow flag flying outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton
Image: Southampton flew a special rainbow flag at St Mary's on Saturday

Crafton's fellow panellist Shaun Custis cited the experiences of Rogers as being something that British football could learn from, and Crafton agreed further discussion would be useful.

"I would like more players to talk about the issue," added Crafton. "If you look at the last two weeks, how many Premier League players have come out and spoken confidently about this issue?

"They will all know someone, I'd imagine, who is gay. They will have a cousin, or someone they went to school with, and they should be comfortable enough to relay that experience and just remove the fear of even discussing the issue.

"You don't have to be gay to talk about it. All it takes is for a leading star to say they have a friend from school, he's gay, and we're still friends and it's great.

"It would make a difference to the wider perception of the public."

Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride and supports Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign, which is currently receiving its annual activation across British sport until December 7.

Contact us at Sky Sports if you'd like to share a story to help raise awareness around LGBT inclusion.

Rainbow Laces, Stonewall poster, campaign activation 2018
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