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Published 08 December 2021 4 min read
Jess Carter

‘Rainbow Laces campaign shows the unity and togetherness we have in football’

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Jess Carter

England and Chelsea defender Jess Carter discusses the importance of the Rainbow Laces campaign ahead of Rainbow Laces Day 2021 on Wednesday 8 December

I think the Rainbow Laces campaign is really important for sport in general, not just in women’s football, because I think it shows the unity and togetherness that we have in football. 

The more we do within football and support the campaign then hopefully the more people will support it and hopefully we can get to the point where we don’t need to have this kind of campaign anymore because there will be enough unity that it is not needed.

I have never experienced abuse but I have seen it with other people, maybe not so much in the women’s game. You might get the odd comment where maybe people aren’t meaning to be discriminatory but when you really think about it, it can come across like that. I think you see it more in male sports than women’s sports in my experience but I’ve not experienced any negative treatment personally.

It is tough because if people do not know about something then how are you supposed to know the right words to use? Sometimes you don’t know what the right or wrong words are until you say them and someone corrects you. I believe it is important that we all try to keep learning and take time to listen to people when they try to correct the terminology and things like that.

Rainbow Laces campaign 2021

It is also important that you ask questions if you are unsure on certain things when it comes to situations like maybe saying the right or wrong things. It is important to ask questions.

I am in a relationship with Ann-Katrin Berger [Chelsea’s goalkeeper]. I think I was – and probably still am – more comfortable than Ann is with publicising our relationship. But that is just because Ann is a very private person whereas I am more of a ‘the whole world could know and I wouldn’t really care’ kind of person. Over time and because I will say whatever, she has kind of got used to it and goes with it. She doesn’t shout from the rooftop about it but equally when she is asked it is not a secret either.

Not everybody is as comfortable announcing to the world who they are with but I think that is the same in straight and gay relationships. I think for a lot of people it might depend on your profile, for example if you are a bigger name player then you might get more scrutiny on it. Also, if your family are not as comfortable about it then it might be harder to make it so public. 

So I think it depends on each person’s private situation. And equally they might just simply view it as it is nobody else’s business so might not want to say. So there could be a lot of reasons but whatever the situation, we should respect each other.

But my experience has been that there are more women’s footballers who are happy to be who they are publicly than those who are not. 

Jess Carter with her partner, Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger, and Blues team-mates Sophie Ingle and Bethany England
Jess Carter with her partner, Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger, and Blues team-mates Sophie Ingle and Bethany England

When I was growing up, I personally was not really aware of women’s football, let alone women who were gay. It was not until I joined Birmingham and was around more women that were gay that maybe I saw it a bit more within the game. I had been exposed to it before within my family but being at Birmingham was the first time that I had been around so many women who were gay. But it was just comfortable for me and I had no problem with it because I have a lot of family members who are gay, so it wasn’t anything that came as a shock to me.

Over the years I think you see it more and you are more aware of it than you would be when you were a lot younger.

I think the most important thing with the Rainbow Laces campaign is it provides visibility to all ages. By seeing that it is normal and you can be whoever you want to be, the campaign shows younger people that it is ok to be you. It is really important we do that, particularly for the younger generation.

I think the women’s game in England is the biggest for showing its support for diversity and being who you want to be. You can see the amount of women in the game who are in same gender couples and partnerships and you can see it in the different types of fans who we get to our games. 

Seeing how inclusive the women’s game is for everybody is hugely important.