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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Football urged into homophobia stand

Rainbow coloured laces have been sent to all Premier League and Football League clubs in England and all professional teams in Scotland as part of an initiative to address homophobia.

QPR midfielder Joey Barton models rainbow laces in support of the Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign.
QPR midfielder Joey Barton models rainbow laces in support of the Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign.

The Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign wants footballers to wear the laces during matches played on Saturday, September 21 and Sunday 22.

Stonewall deputy chief executive Laura Doughty said: "It's time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game.

"By wearing rainbow laces, players will send a message of support to gay players and can begin to drag football into the 21st Century."

QPR midfielder Joey Barton has already begun actively supporting the drive via his official Twitter account.

The Football Association began a similar drive in February 2013, issuing kits to help clubs combat homophobia but only 29 of 92 professional clubs took part.

While in August, German Football League (DFL) president Reinhard Rauball told Sport Bild that he does not believe football is ready for gay players to come out.

Former Leeds and United States winger Robbie Rogers retired in February, announcing his sexuality and claiming he could not have continued his career due to the "pack mentality" that changes the way footballers behave. He later reversed his decision to quit the game and signed for LA Galaxy.

Before Rogers only two footballers had publicly said they were gay. Former England Under-21 international Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to come out, in 1990, before he took his own life eight years later, aged 37.

Swedish lower league player Anton Hysen -- son of former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen -- also came out in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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