An empty bus will be part of Brighton’s Pride festival this weekend to protest football’s lack of support for gay players.
Brighton Pride, Britain’s biggest LGBTQ+ event, is taking place this weekend, with thousands of people from all over the UK set to turn up and celebrate sexuality.
The Brighton Pride website describes the event as a ‘glittering and truly inclusive community celebration that delivers an unforgettable day of Pride’.
It adds ‘Brighton Pride Festival has proved itself to be the UK’s biggest, boldest and best Pride event with community fundraising at it’s heart.’
This year, the parade will feature an empty open-top bus, used to highlight the ‘statistical anomaly’ that none of the 500 top-level footballers registered to play are openly gay.
The bus reads ‘come out and play’, and is painted with the signature Pride rainbow.
The protest was organised by Paddy Power, and will target the Premier League and its attitude towards homosexuality in a brilliantly passive aggressive manner – with a bus containing every gay footballer on board.
As previously mentioned, the bus will therefore be empty.
The Irish betting firm, who are partners of this weekend’s event, blamed the environment within football for not supporting players who might want to come out.
Last year, FA Chairman Greg Clarke revealed that he was aware of at least two gay Premier League players, and admitted that he was ‘personally ashamed’ that neither of them feels safe enough to come out.
A spokesman for Paddy Power talked about the issue.
The world’s best-watched league should reflect the community around it – in the UK, one in 50 people consider themselves LGBT+.
And yet, in the Premier League, not one player is openly gay. So we’re calling on the league to boot itself into 2018, and create a welcoming environment for its first gay player.
The spokesman continued:
We think an out gay Premier League footballer would have an extraordinary effect not just on the LGBT+ community, but society in general.
They would spearhead profound change and, club colours aside, that’s something we support more than anything else.
The empty bus protest isn’t Paddy Power’s first move in tackling LGBTQ issues in football.
In the past, the company teamed up with Stonewall to pionere and launch the Rainbow Laces campaign, which got universal backing across the game.
The Rainbow Laces campaign is described on the Stonewall website.
The Rainbow Laces campaign is a way for everyone involved in sport to show their support for LGBT equality and inclusivity. National teams, leading clubs, top athletes, fans and grassroots players are lacing up to Come Out For LGBT people in sport.
Paddy Power continued to do their part for the LGBTQ community throughout this year’s world cup.
Every time Russia scored a goal during the 2018 tournament, the betting company donated money to LGBTQ causes.
In total, they raised £170,000 for the Attitude Foundation, which will support the LGBTQ community in football. Paddy Power’s efforts received well deserved praise from MPs.
Hopefully the bus protest taking place at Brighton Pride this weekend will point out the obvious flaws in the Premier League’s approach and support of LGBTQ players, and encourage change going forward.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.