The English Premier League has agreed a new two-year strategic partnership with LGBT+ charity Stonewall, to promote equality and diversity within the league.
The next stage of the partnership will be aimed at building on the work the Premier League has so far carried out alongside Stonewall since 2017 in promoting LGBT+ inclusivity in sport.
A primary focus will be through education – encouraging LGBT+ acceptance amongst children and young people involved with programmes such as Premier League Primary Stars and Premier League Kicks, and within academies. New resources and programmes will be developed by the league and Stonewall for coaches, teachers and leaders in schools and communities to aid in promoting positive attitudes towards the LGBT+ community.
LGBT+ inclusion will also be a key element within player care and support programmes, which will be made available at all team age groups across Premier League clubs.
The announcement of the new two-year partnership comes before the Premier League and its member clubs prepare to celebrate Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign that will be featured across two match rounds from December 4 to December 13.
“The Premier League is committed to promoting equality in all we do, and we are pleased to extend our relationship with Stonewall through this new strategic partnership,” said Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Masters.
“There is no place for discrimination of any kind in football or wider society. Our new partnership focuses on developing the positive LGBT+ inclusion projects we have carried out with Stonewall in recent years.
“A great deal of work has taken place to make football as welcoming as possible, promoting diversity on and off the pitch, and within our clubs’ communities. However, we know there is more to do, and we look forward to making further progress.
“Fans will be able to see our support for the Rainbow Laces campaign over match rounds 11 and 12, which clearly demonstrates the ongoing commitment of the League and our clubs to LGBT+ inclusion in football.”
Fixtures within the Rainbow Laces period will feature campaign-specific matchday inventory, including substitute boards, ball plinths and handshake boards. Rainbow armbands, laces and pin badges will be available for players and staff, and clubs will be given the opportunity to highlight the work they carry out to celebrate and support their LGBT+ communities.
Within the new partnership, the Premier League will continue to be members of Stonewall’s Global Diversity Champion programme as well as maintaining Sport Allies sessions for employees.
Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive at Stonewall, added: “We’re immensely proud to announce the next phase of our strategic partnership with the Premier League during this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign. When we re-launched this campaign four years ago we knew we needed allies to raise awareness of the challenges facing LGBT+ people in sport. The Premier League’s early support for the campaign, and joining TeamPride, was a huge catalyst for driving change across football and sport more widely.
“Three years ago, the Premier League stepped up and demonstrate they were willing to go further by committing to a partnership with us to support their clubs and communities to better include LGBT+ people. While we’ve made great progress since then, and seen phenomenal enthusiasm from the Premier League, we both know more needs to be done to ensure no-one is left behind.
“We look forward to continue building on our partnership and working ever more closely with the Premier League to create a game where all LGBT+ people are welcome and able to fulfil their potential in football.”
Author: Jake Wilkin