Aberdeen Football Club has condemned some fans after a torrent of abuse was left on a social media post promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion.
Sports stars and professional athletes re-laced their shoes with rainbow laces on December 8 to start conversations needed to make sport accessible for everyone.
The Rainbow Laces initiative aims to act as a symbol of support of LGBTQ+ community members, and thousands of posts were shared on social media on Wednesday.
However, a small minority of Dons supporters used platforms to spread anti-LGBTQ+ messages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Some fans accused the club of “pandering” to minority groups and others even suggested that the supportive posts would cause “segregation”.
The club has since reaffirmed its commitment to tackling racism, homophobia and to stand free from all forms of abuse.
Statistics surrounding comments
Often comments made by people online are explained away as banter, however, they still have a very real effect on the people they’re aimed at.
According to a study conducted on behalf of Stonewall, the group behind the Rainbow Laces campaign, 20% of sports fans believe anti-LGBTQ+ language is harmless.
Statistics also show that 43% of LGBTQ+ people think sporting events aren’t a welcoming space while 33% of LGBTQ+ people who participate in sport do not feel comfortable to be out in their sporting life.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeen Football Club said: “Football is everyone’s game and Aberdeen FC is proud to support Rainbow Laces Day. As a club, we stand in solidarity against homophobia and racism in all forms.
“It’s disappointing that a few people who purport to support the club, but hide behind anonymity, have made some ignorant comments on our post but, as a club, we will continue to help tackle discrimination and stand free from all forms of unacceptable behaviour and abuse.”
Comments have been denounced by the club and fans alike
Fans have also voiced their concerns surrounding the comments.
Rather than delete the abusive messages, some fans believe they should stand as a reminder of what campaigns are fighting against and a “zero-tolerance” approach should be taken with those who post them.
Season ticket holder and lifelong Aberdeen FC fan, Jack Middleton, said: “Aberdeen is a family club that does a power of great work in the community.
“But these comments are not isolated and sweeping them under the carpet simply won’t wash.
“I would like to see the club take a zero-tolerance approach to any season ticket holders and fans using bigoted language like this – whoever it is aimed at.
“Making fellow Aberdeen fans feel uncomfortable or unwelcome simply because of their sexuality or gender is not on. It’s not acceptable outside of football and it isn’t acceptable inside it either.
“Football is the greatest game in the world and it belongs to everyone – not just straight white men. The sooner this small minority of dinosaurs realise that the better off the Scottish football community will be.”
Mr Middleton was not alone in his criticism of the comments as some fans tried to engage with those making the negative comments.
Some of the comments on this, and the instagram post, only serve to show how much this is needed. Football should be for everyone* 🌈 #RainbowLacesDay
*except bigots. https://t.co/Rr1A2OCUXP
— Erin Grieve (@ErinGrieve17) December 8, 2021
Fab seeing our football team supporting equality and acceptance for all ⚽️🌈👍🏻😊 https://t.co/uAwDJIqTN5
— Lynn Leslie (@LynnLeslie18) December 8, 2021
— Vicki Taylor (@vixtee89) December 8, 2021