Premier League and Stonewall launch LGBT football initiative

The Premier League has announced a three-year partnership with Stonewall to promote LGBT equality in football.

The league and its clubs will work with the charity to encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to get involved in the sport.

That could involve playing, supporting a club, or working in an off-pitch role, as well as improving the LGBT experience within the game.

The Premier League will ensure it provides an inclusive environment for LGBT people it employs and engages with and work to improve the lives of the LGBT community in the UK and internationally.

A major part of the partnership will include work to address unacceptable language and homophobic abuse, whether in stadiums or social media.

This will focus on improved reporting measures, staff training and other programmes that will see the Premier League use the power of football, and its significant reach, to promote LGBT fan groups.

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said: "Premier League football is for everyone, everywhere and our clubs are committed to equality and diversity at all levels of the sport.

"We view the LGBT community as an integral part of our community and, working with Stonewall, we want this partnership to improve the experience of LGBT people already playing football, and supporting clubs, and to signal to others who might be interested in getting involved, that they are welcome to do so," he added.

Stonewall chief executive Ruth Hunt called it an "important milestone" for football, and for sport.

"The Premier League have stepped up and demonstrated how committed they are to helping make football inclusive and welcoming of LGBT create a game where everyone is able to be themselves," she said.

The charity's head of campaigns Robbie de Santos told Sky Sports News: "It's such a big deal that the Premier League are stepping forward and making this big commitment.

"The players have a huge role to play as well. They're followed by millions of fans across the football community and what they say matters, so it's really great to know that we can get more players talking about LGBT inclusion, and coming out as allies to LGBT people in football."