Joey Barton becomes first footballer to wear anti-homophobia rainbow laces

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Football star Joey Barton says “people’s sexuality shouldn’t be an issue” in the sport.

The Queens Park Ranger player has called for professional footballers in England and Scotland to support a Stonewall and Paddy Power campaign addressing homophobia in the game by wearing rainbow laces in their boots this weekend.

“The Right Behind Gay Footballers” campaign is focused on changing attitudes in football rather than urging players to come out and wants players to wear the laces in games on Saturday and Sunday.

In 2012, Barton, who is heterosexual, criticised the “archaic” nature of homophobic football managers in a BBC documentary.

He said it was a subject close to heart because his uncle is gay.

Barton has often received praise for his statements against homophobia – but he dropped the diversity ball earlier this year when he used transphobic language about a rival player.

But today the 32-year-old is being a champion of tolerance on Twitter.