Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) members have joined the #RainbowLaces campaign to help kick-out homophobia from sport.

With many PFA members across the A-League set to wear Rainbow Laces in this weekend’s matches, Australian sporting teams and their fans are being urged to make the sporting environment a more inclusive place for all by helping to address one of the last great taboos of sport – homophobia.

Held from March 31 to April 4, individuals and teams from across four football codes and netball will also be taking part in the campaign.

The extent of homophobic attitudes and behaviour in sport in Australia were laid bare in a 2015 global study commissioned by Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 in conjunction with Repucom entitled Out on the Fields.

Among other things, the report showed that within Australia, 80% of more than 3,000 respondents had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport, and 70% believed that youth team sports are not safe and supportive for LGB people.

PFA President Matt McKay said the #RainbowLaces campaign was an important initiative and that football must play a leading role in “booting” homophobia out of sport and Australian society.

“#RainbowLaces is an important and positive campaign not just for professional athletes, but for everyone involved in football, including fans, administrators and officials,” said McKay. “We’re encouraging all PFA members to embrace #RainbowLaces enthusiastically and say #KnotMe to homophobia in sport.”

Matildas forward Michelle Heyman said the #RainbowLaces campaign was an important symbol to all that sport is serious about tackling homophobia.

“There is no place for homophobia in sport or in society,” said Heyman. “Football is loved because of its universal values of fairness and inclusivity and these must be extended to all. Everyone must feel welcomed by football and this initiative is an important step in the fight against homophobia.”

Andrew Purchas, Vice-President of ACON (NSW-based HIV and LGBTI health organisation) and co-founder of the Pride in Sport Index (PSI) said it was a great thrill for Australia to have its own #RainbowLaces Campaign.

“We know from our advocacy partners in the UK where they have held a similar #RainbowLaces campaign for the past three years, that it has been a great way of bringing the issues around homophobia in sport to the attention of the broader community, which is essential to make change happen,” said Purchas.

“By wearing #RainbowLaces, athletes are helping us say #KnotMe to homophobia in sport. We hope it will also encourage national and state sporting organisations and clubs to join the Pride in Sport Index,” Mr Purchas said.

The teams that have committed to wearing #RainbowLaces this weekend are the North Queensland Cowboys, Penrith Panthers, Brisbane Lions, GWS Giants, NSW Swifts, Sydney FC, the Brumbies and Waratahs. The initiative has also been endorsed by Professional Footballers Australia, the Rugby League Players’ Association, the Rugby Union Players’ Association and the Australian Rugby Union.

High profile athletes supporting the move to rid sport of homophobia are Johnathan Thurston, Robbie Farah and Nathan Peats from rugby league; Matt Toomua from rugby union; Dylan Shiel
from AFL; Alex Brosque, Zac Anderson, Bruce Djite, Matt McKay and Michelle Heyman from football; and Sharni Layton from netball. Surfer Joel Parkinson is also showing his support by wearing a rainbow leg rope at this year’s Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.

The Australian #RainbowLaces campaign has been made possible through the involvement of Australian-owned global sportswear company, SKINS.

“Frankly, I was horrified when I read about Out on the Fields and the extent to which homophobia in sport is preventing sportsmen and women, young aspiring athletes, and others involved in the sporting world from taking part,” said the Executive Chairman of SKINS, Jaimie Fuller.

“Sport isn’t about who or what you are, but about shared experiences, shared endeavours, team work and fair play. By its very nature, sport and inclusivity and diversity should go together.

“I hope more teams and athletes participate next year to help us make sport the safe, secure and welcoming environment that it should be, and where the only thing that counts is what happens on the field of play.”


#RainbowLaces are also available for free to community sporting organisations by heading to or for individuals from participating Rebel or Amart Sports stores while stocks last.