Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign wins support at Manchester United V Arsenal game
PUBLISHED: 10:33 26 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:33 26 February 2016
With Arsenal and Manchester United lacing up to help champion equality this weekend, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has stressed that success in sport is down to ability, and not sexuality.
Speaking today (Friday) at a media conference at the team’s training centre in London Colney, Wenger was responding to a question about Stonewall’s rainbow laces campaign.
Before Sunday’s (28) Premier League match at Old Trafford, the team captains will exchange a pair of giant rainbow laces before kick-off, to show their support for the Stonewall campaign to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in sport.
Wenger pointed out: “Sport is based on merit, and not on identity. Therefore it is no matter where you come from, and what kind of sexuality you are.
“You just play on merit. If you are good enough, you play, and sport is a good example of what society should be about … what sport is about. If you are good enough, you play, and sport can be a big example for that.”
Both teams will also sign giant laces, with fans being given the opportunity to win a signed lace by following the hashtag #RainbowLaces on Twitter.
Wenger has been quoted on the club’s website saying that “discrimination has no part to play in our game at all”.
They are not the only teams lacing up for the campaign. As part of LGBT History Month, Herts Police has teamed up with the Herts Football Association, and the county’s football clubs to make a stand against homophobia (including biphobia and transphobia) in the sport, to encourage the reporting of homophobic incidents to police and football authorities.
As part of that initiative, the county’s local football clubs and Herts Police Veterans football team have been wearing Stonewall’s rainbow laces during at least one match this month – including St Albans City Football Club.
Stonewall has hailed this weekend’s ‘historic’ exhange of super-sized laces between the captains of Manchester United and Arsenal as “sending a message to fans and clubs from across the world that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport is unacceptable”.
• In Arsenal’s Sunday team news, Wenger said that, “Gabriel is testing today and tomorrow, then we will see if he is available.”
• On Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was injured during Tuesday’s (23) game against Barcelona, Wenger said: “We lost Chamberlain on Tuesday night and his injury is quite serious and keeps him out for a few weeks. He is consulting at the moment, and seeing a specialist as he is injured at his knee. Hopefully we will have good news, but he is out for a few weeks. For how long exactly, I don’t know. I’m cautious because he is seeing a specialist now.”
• Asked about Danny Welbeck, and ‘whether this is potentially a time you could start him in the League’, Wenger replied: “He has been out for a while, so we have to be cautious with him. I haven’t picked my team for Sunday. I cannot tell you that now at the moment. He is back in the squad, but we still have to be cautious because he is not completely over his knee problem. He is doing extremely well, he is extremely fit. But I have to analyse that.”
• Wenger had a quick response to a journalist’s question on whether this weekend could be the Gunners’ best chance to win at Old Trafford, where it has failed to win a Premier League match since 2006. He said: “The next chance is always the best chance.”
• Manchester United V Arsenal, Barclays Premier League, Sunday February 28, 2.05pm