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No rainbow laces for Saints players in anti-homophobia campaign
12:32pm Friday 20th September 2013 in Sport
SAINTS are one of a number of Premier League clubs whose players won’t be wearing rainbow laces this weekend. The gay rights charity Stonewall has linked up with betting firm Paddy Power to send laces to all 92 professional clubs in England, plus the 42 in Scotland. Their hope is that the players will wear the laces as part of the 'Right Behind Gay Footballers' campaign, but the Premier League was not consulted about the initiative. The lack of communication has irritated clubs, with one telling the Press Associationthat a serious message is being lost in guerilla marketing. Another revealed security officials had to step in after campaigners broken into their training ground and attempted to unfurl a flag. Champions Manchester United and Tottenham have confirmed they will not be partaking in the rainbow laces initiative, as have Sunderland, Norwich and Saints. A statement from Spurs read: “Whilst the campaign message is positive and one we support, there was unfortunately no prior consultation with ourselves, the Premier League or other clubs. “Such consultation would have enabled us to avoid issues in respect of associated third-party commercial entities. “We have contacted Stonewall directly and let them know that we are supportive and keen to discuss ways in which we can work together going forward. “We are committed to working with organisations such as Stonewall and other agencies to eradicate homophobia in football and society.” Joey Barton, one of the campaign's figureheads, wore the laces in QPR's 0-0 draw with Brighton on Wednesday, while Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale confirmed on Twitter he planned to wear them. His club, though, are another irked at the way the initiative has been handled. In a statement, Fulham said: “The players have been given the opportunity to wear the laces, entirely at their discretion. “The underlying message behind this campaign is a good one, and we work hard to ensure the whole equalities agenda is something we are engaged in. “This campaign was initiated without consultation with clubs or the League. Had we been involved earlier in the process we could have worked with Stonewall to consider it more carefully. “Fulham remains committed to supporting and promoting equality throughout all sectors of society as our work within local communities would confirm." Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will also allow his players to wear the laces in this weekend's clash with Stoke. “I am personally against [homophobia], for me that is linked with racism, every single week you could find a reason to fight against it,” he said. “It's a kind of racism and that should all be included in the fight against racism. In our club everybody is free to have his own opinion of these kind of things.”
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