Harry Kane on Rainbow Laces, Jake Daniels and how more needs to be done
Harry Kane believes there has been a lot of progress when it comes to supporting the LGBTQ+ community within English football but has stressed more still needs to be done.
As captain of England and one of Tottenham Hotspur’s star men, Kane has been vocal in his support for LGBTQ+ rights and the annual Rainbow Laces campaign, which this year takes place between October 19 and 29.
The Rainbow Laces campaign has been run by the charity Stonewall since 2013 and is aimed at increasing visibility for LGBTQ+ people in sport and raising awareness of the community’s experiences on and off the pitch.
It is a campaign that organisations such as the FA and English Premier League support on an annual basis, with captains wearing rainbow-coloured armbands and many players using rainbow-coloured laces, as well as players regularly discussing the experiences and issues of players and fans from the LGBTQ+ community.
Kane said: “I think it is really important for the FA and England to be supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign. Especially in recent years, we have seen more and more how much of an influence we can have around the world. Football is such a worldwide sport, watched by millions and millions of people so anything we can do to come together to help is really important.
“We have been supporting it for a number of years and it is important that we continue to support it and help it grow as much as we can.
“I think it is a really important thing that we are doing and the more people that we can get behind it and supporting it, the more we can really make a difference.”
This year saw 17-year-old Jake Daniels become the first professional footballer in the UK men's game for more than 30 years to come out as openly gay while still playing.
The Blackpool forward’s announcement was welcomed by almost everyone in English football, with the likes of national team manager Gareth Southgate and the Prime Minister among those to send messages of support.
Kane said: “As we know, in football, it is not an easy environment to speak out so for Jake to do that, I thought it was incredibly brave and we need to support him as much as possible.
“I’m sure he got lots of love and support from fans, team-mates and managers, and for him to do that, maybe gives other young boys and girls watching sport and football the opportunity to feel more comfortable within themselves.
“It was a really important message he sent and I am sure if there are more players who do that, men or women, it will make a big impact, especially on the younger generation.”
Not since Justin Fashanu in 1990 has a player in English football come out publicly as gay whilst still playing on these shores.
#NationalComingOutDay ❤️🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/X4FPvtow6P— Jake Daniels (@Jake_Daniels11) October 11, 2022
So what was the reaction in the dressing rooms Kane is involved with? What were the conversations which were taking place?
“The main thing was people were talking about it and people were appreciating what he had done,” Kane explained.
“As we know, we spend a lot of time together as footballers and team-mates, we get to know each other on a personal level as much as a professional level, so for his team-mates, it would have been really important for them to understand what he was going through and support him.
“The general feeling from team-mates and people I know was that it was an incredible thing that he did and we all fully support him and anyone else who wants to send the same message.”
Like large parts of society, football has not always been – and in some cases continues not to be – welcoming towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Football is for everyone ❤️— England (@England) October 26, 2022
As part of our support for the #RainbowLaces campaign, we followed @3Lionspride for our @Lionesses and #ThreeLions fixtures at @wembleystadium last month. pic.twitter.com/SqQT5tvjon
Whether it be at your local park or in professional stadiums, men’s football dressing rooms have often been home to homophobic language and an unwelcoming environment for LGBTQ+ players and fans.
Kane was asked whether the inappropriate language was still happening in the dressing rooms he is involved in or if we have turned a corner in terms of those comments no longer being accepted and are not happening.
He replied: “I definitely think we have seen a change, 100 per cent, but as always, there is never perfection, there is even more improvement to be done – not just in dressing rooms but with the fans inside the stands and on social media.
“There is definitely room for improvement but in terms of the changing rooms and stuff like that, there has definitely been a big change.”
There has also been a big change in recent times when it comes to the number of LGBTQ+ fan groups inside stadiums.
With both Tottenham and England having respective groups, the sight of rainbow banners and members of the LGBTQ+ community being in attendance at matches has become the norm for Kane and his team-mates.
And the England captain said: “We want everyone who is coming to watch us to have an amazing experience and enjoy the game, be focussed on the game and nothing else. That is what people go to football for.
“It is really important that football is for all and people should be able to go to any game around the world and feel comfortable supporting whomever they want to support.
“The more people who campaign and show love and support to each other, and on the biggest stage like in the stadiums, it sends a really important message.”
But whilst progress has been made within English football in recent years, Kane knows there is still more work to do.
He said: “Yeah, absolutely [more needs to be done to support the LQBTQ+ community in football] and I think talking about it and having the Rainbow Laces campaign will only help that.
“Like with anything, it is good to talk about stuff and be open about things, while realising we are not the finished article in terms of being where we want to be. But knowing that we are trying to get to that place is the most important thing.
“Conversation among ourselves, with the staff or in interviews like this, will only help this important cause.”
Find out more: Rainbow Laces
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