Sunday afternoon will see Arsenal take on Manchester United, but all differences will be put aside for a moment to rise awareness for equality with the Rainbow Laces campaign.
To help promote equality for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, Arsenal have teamed up with Stonewell and both teams will wear Rainbow Laces during the match. Before kick-off, the team captains will exchange a giant pair of Rainbow Laces signed by the players.
“Sport is based on merit, not on identity and therefore no matter where you come from and what kind of sexuality you are you just play on merit,” Arsène Wenger said in his press conference on Friday morning.
“If you’re good enough you play and sport is a big example. What society should be about is what sport is about – if you’re good enough you play and sport can be a big example for that.”
Not only can sports represent the wider society, but professional athletes can use their position as prominent figures and role models to promote equality and other just causes to an incredibly wide audience.
Football needs to lead the way in eradicating all forms of exclusion in society, welcoming anyone into its broad family. It’s a telling indictment of the culture the sport is in that no player in the major leagues has yet felt comfortable enough to come out as gay, and that needs to end.
It’s a pleasure to see Arsenal and Manchester United lead the way, and hopefully make a difference.