Manchester United become first football club to partner with LGBT charity Stonewall

Manchester United have continued to demonstrate their commitment to tackling homophobia in football by becoming the first sports club to partner with LGBT charity Stonewall. The world-famous Premier League squad will work with Stonewall to address LGBT equality and inclusion in sport and society, and have officially joined the charity's TeamPride coalition of global businesses supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign to promote equality LGBT fans and players. The team has previously pledged its support for the campaign, and last year the club remained resolute after facing a homophobic backlash from a minority of fans after posting a message of support for Manchester Pride on social media. Manchester United’s Group Managing Director, Richard Arnold, said of the news: "Manchester United always looks to be a leader in everything it does and we are proud to be the first sports club to sign up to TeamPride. "The club has an ongoing commitment to equality across all areas and with 659 million followers around the world, it is our responsibility to show support and recognition to everybody who loves this football club. "We have built up a positive working relationship with Stonewall and it’s a great way for us to learn from each other and progress together as we strive for equality for all of our supporters."     Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, added: "Manchester United’s support means we can reach millions of football fans both here and around the world, to encourage them to do their part in making all people feel welcome in sport. "It’s crucial for organisations like Manchester United to show they not only welcome LGBT people, but are active in leading the change. At the moment, many LGBT people want to take part in sport, either as players or fans, but the behaviour of a minority can make them feel unsafe, unwelcome or unable to be themselves. "There’s so much work left to do to ensure that all LGBT people feel able to participate in sport, and we hope to see other clubs take Manchester United’s lead and join the Rainbow Laces campaign to make this a reality." More stories: South Africa soap opera broadcasts first gay kiss after 17 years on air BBC News' James Longman on the reality of reporting from the Middle East as a gay man