Football players, officials to sport rainbow laces in 19 games to promote LGBTIQ inclusivity
Football players and officials will don rainbow laces and armbands in 19 games across various levels in order to promote LGBTIQ inclusivity in sport.
‘Everyone’s Game’, as the programme is called, came about following discussions between the Malta Football Association (MFA) and the Ministry for Equality, and will see 600 laces and 50 armbands distributed for use in fixtures across these coming days. 19 games across the BOV Premier League, BOV First Division, MFA Youths Section A, GFA First Division, and the MFA’s Women’s League.
MFA’s Matthew Paris said that the association’s message was clear: that its door is wide open to everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from.
He cited a recent study which found that 70% of all children come into contact with football in one way or another and said that it was therefore important that football nurseries are at the forefront of promoting inclusivity in sport.
The programme forms part of the MFA’s Football For Life programme, which has in the past seen the introduction of measures which help those who are blind or deaf to feel the atmosphere within the stadium at a game.
Equality Minister Helena Dalli said that dialogue such as this is extremely important to help change society’s attitude and mindset to be more inclusive and embrace diversity more.
Dalli said that when it comes to legislation, Malta is a global leader; but this legislative change is yet to fully spread into all spheres of society and into people’s everyday lives.
Sport is a key way to reach different parts of society and a lot can be done to promote inclusivity and diversity in not just LGBTIQ rights, but also in religion, race, and disability, she said.
“There are still many steps for us to take so that diversity is mainstreamed in our everyday lives, but we must appreciate that it makes us richer as people and as a society,” Dalli said before auguring for more such collaborations with other sports associations.
Silvan Agius from the Equality Minister praised the MFA’s initiative and said that many LGBTIQ people did not participate in sport because of discrimination both within the sport and from supporters.
Gabi Calleja who heads the Human Rights and Integration Directorate within the Ministry for Equality and EU Affairs said that the campaign with the MFA forms part of the country’s action plan for LGBTIQ equality which was launched late last year and augured for concrete measures to emerge from these discussions. She said that this was also an opportunity to open the discussion on laws pertaining to the participation of trans and intersex persons within sport.