Stonewall UK and Paddy Power have been criticised, not for their Rainbow Laces campaign, but for the slogan that goes with it – Get Behind The Players. Stonewall have defended the slogan by saying it’s meant to be risqué and tongue in cheek, but the anti-homophobia group Football v Homophobia have stated:
A number of organisations, like ours, have been campaigning for years for a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to discrimination, and we are disappointed to see that the wording of this tag line gives license for a blurring of the already difficult territory between implicitly and explicitly homophobic and transphobic language, and football ‘banter’
In their statement, they say they are also against what they feel is stereotyping of gay men:
Our discomfort is with the reliance on sexualised innuendo and stereotypes about gay men. We feel it is incongruous to run a campaign aiming to change football culture whilst using language which reinforces the very stereotypes and charactures that, in the long term, ensure that homophobia persists.
Stonewall have said that they teamed up with Paddy Power precisely because they felt Paddy Power spoke the language of the fans. However, Football v Homophobia has said that a lot of negative comments were posted on Power’s facebook page, and withdrew their support when Power refused to pull the slogan.
On Stonewall London’s facebook page, there is also a mixed reaction in comments. While some are think it’s witty and redeems stereotypes, using them in their correct context, others have said that Stonewall should have teamed up with the football league, instead of Paddy Power.
However, the campaign has also had a positive reaction from many quarters, including Sky Sports, Gary Lineker, and Metro UK among others.