Players giving boot to homophobia

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Club colours will feature a rainbow tint this weekend, as football players and supporters back a campaign to stamp out homophobia.

Premier League stars have joined celebrities, former professionals and lower league regulars in swapping their normal boot laces for multi-coloured alternatives.

High profile players including Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta, newly-capped England midfielder Fabian Delph and outspoken QPR midfielder Joey Barton have all pledged their support for the Stonewall campaign.

Others, including former England striker Michael Owen, and ex-Germany and Aston Villa midefielder Thomas Hitzlsperger – who announced he was gay after retiring from playing last year – also backed the campaign.

Players across all divisions in the English Football League are expected to wear rainbow laces this weekend, with more than 100,000 pairs of rainbow laces distributed across the country.

Arsenal underground station also featured a rainbow -colour crossing.

James Taylor from campaigners Stonewall said: ” This weekend football players and clubs up and down the country are lacing up to show their support for kicking homophobia out of football.

“In partnership with Paddy Power we’ve sent rainbow laces to every professional player to show the game can change. We’re delighted to have the support of Arsenal, Man City, the backing of the Premier League, The FA and many others this weekend to help raise awareness of homophobia in football and the need to tackle it.”

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