Chelsea FC fans displaying a rainbow Chelsea flag

Rainbow Laces 2019 - raising the rainbow flag at Stamford Bridge

It's Rainbow Laces week 2019! And Chelsea Football Club supports the Premier League's campaign to show unity with all LGBT people in football and beyond.

The rainbow laces of LGBT equality charity Stonewall adorn the players' boots – at home to Aston Villa and away to Everton – and the Blues' captain wears a rainbow armband in both games.

The adoption of the LGBT colours strongly reinforcing a collective desire for a game free from discrimination against LGBT people – one that is also supported outside of the Premier League by the borough's two other football clubs, Fulham and QPR.

“Football should be a game for everyone,” said Cllr Sue Fennimore, H&F Council's Deputy Leader.

“By getting behind the Rainbow Laces campaign, our football clubs are showing clear support for a part of our diverse community that hasn't always been made to feel welcome at football – underlining the fact that this is one game for all.”

Working towards equality

Despite Chelsea's strong backing for the equality campaign, there have been recent signs of the distance some still need to travel before true LGBT equality is attained.

Last weekend's home game against West Ham was one such occasion. Then, visiting fans of the east London club spent almost the full 90 minutes chanting abuse: condemned by members of both teams' LGBT supporter groups, and by football equality campaigners Kick It Out, as homophobic.

Chelsea Pride worked together with Hammers fans Pride of Irons, post-match, saying they were 'disgusted' by the behaviour.

“We know our friends Pride Of Irons have already taken this up with the club,” said a Chelsea Pride spokesman in a tweet. “There is no room for homophobia or any discrimination in our game.”

It's all about teamwork

Earlier in the year Chelsea Pride displayed similar levels of teamwork with Liverpool LGBT group Kop Outs, following the singing of homophobic chants in a game between the sides at Anfield.

The result was a first: a full and joint public commitment by the two rival clubs to root out those who abuse others based on sexuality or gender status.

The core message of the rainbow alliance: we are fans too; and, in the charged and tribal atmosphere of football, it is unacceptable to abuse our diversity in order to get at others.

Chelsea Pride banners are already displayed in Stamford Bridge' East Stand, as well as at Chelsea Women's home ground Kingsmeadow – the latter having the full support of Chelsea Women Supporters Group.

“Just like the story of Stonewall itself, the story of LGBT equality in football is full of both advances and setbacks,” said Cllr Fennimore.

“But the Rainbow Laces campaign, and the groundbreaking work Chelsea Pride is doing in this area, is a real advance.

“We want H&F to be a borough where equality is a reality for all and we stand firmly against all forms of hatred. We fully support the work these fans are doing to help kick homophobia out of the game.”

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