Why English footballers donning rainbow laces this weekend matters

By Brittany Siddall

Monday’s Metro newspaper was bursting with colour, full of advertisements supporting Rainbow Laces, the second annual campaign encouraging footballers to don multi-coloured laces to show their support against homophobia.

Arsenal have been at the forefront of the campaign with their humourous advert and plans to paint a rainbow crossing outside the Arsenal tube station

Last year, 52 clubs – including men’s, women’s and youth clubs – joined the movement to fight back against homophobia and demonstrate that anti-gay sentiments will no longer be tolerated in the beautiful game.

The number of big-name brands showing their support for the movement has grown drastically with big names such as Starbucks, Heineken, Pepsico, Fiat and Dr Martens all joining the movement this year.

A few years ago on American soil, the National Football League (NFL) joined forces with the American Cancer Society (ACS) on an altruistic campaign, Crucial Catch, to support October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The motive behind the campaign, where organisers encourage NFL players to gear up in hot-pink, has been questioned.

Was the NFL’s main goal to attract female fans and enhance their image to these prospective fans, as opposed to promoting the actual cause? The motives of a seemingly philanthropic campaign can still certainly be debated even now in 2014.

But the point is this: campaigns such as Rainbow Laces and Crucial Catch raise awareness for important causes and help to spread a positive message.

We still, sadly, seem to have a way to go until openly gay players come out and fans feel comfortable walking holding hands without fear of abuse or ridicule, but hopefully this weekend will go some way towards removing one of the biggest prejudices facing the world's most popular sport.

And so this weekend, whether you’re watch the Arsenal game or a local youth football match, why not join the movement and tweet #RainbowLaces to show your support against a worthy cause?